‘If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t make anything’
This old proverb is so true. No one ever honed a skill without making mistakes. If you want to learn a skill, whether it’s playing a sport, or perfecting a craft, entering a profession or trade, running a business, rearing a child, or inventing something unique, the goal is to start with the basics and correct what’s wrong and keep what’s right. The eventual result is expertise and mastery. The golfer adjusts the faulty swing to improve his aim, the pilot constantly adjusts the plane’s heading to stay on track as the wind blows the plane off course, the knitter experiments with the tension to get it just right, the baker discovers how to adjust the ingredients and temperature to get the cake to rise. It’s just not possible to get everything right first time, all the time.
No one could ever get through life without making mistakes, or become a professional baker without producing a disastrous cake on the way! But that is a good thing because knowing what doesn’t work points you to what does and you can do better next time.
We know that to learn new skills, or achieve success, including taking your first steps and learning to walk, involves trial and error, or a good coach, until you get it right.
BUT WHAT IF YOU CAN’T RISK MAKING ANY MISTAKES?
No one ever tries to fail, get it wrong or make a mistake, but most people accept that mistakes are an inevitable part of life, and are best viewed as an opportunity for learning and improving. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off and try again. The best way to succeed is to keep going and never quit.
However, some people fail to try again. They can’t risk making another mistake because they don’t want to experience the negative consequences that would bring.
Of course, the consequences of making a mistake can be unpleasant; there can be punishment, embarrassment, judgement, guilt, pain, loss or anxiety as a result. This can lead to a fear of making mistakes.
The result is likely to be procrastination, putting off plans until another day or not making any plans, reluctance to make decisions, not taking responsibility for actions, lack of self trust. The fear of potentially getting it wrong again causes paralysis, and an inability to move forward in life for fear of making another mistake and experiencing the same pain all over again.
The repeated avoidance of ‘risky’ actions builds an increasing fear of making a mistake. ‘What if it goes wrong? I won’t be able to bear the pain and disappointment. What will people think of me? If I succeed but it doesn’t last, that will be even more painful’. Every time you pull back and don’t act, you feel a sense of relief. Your subconscious mind, where your beliefs reside, makes an association and believes it was indeed safer to avoid acting. It was definitely risky to take that action because you felt so good when you avoided it.
Feeling good when you repeatedly avoid something is a contributory factor in creating a phobia, and yes, you can have a phobia of making mistakes, called erratophobia. The fear is greater than logically appropriate and that fear inhibits the ability to learn from those inevitable little mistakes we all make. When even small mistakes are made, rather than learning anything useful and beneficial, the mistake creates self punishment, anxiety and reinforces the desire to avoid further mistakes. ‘Nothing ventured nothing gained’ is not available as a success strategy, because big goals are far too risky and not even attempted.
If a fear of making mistakes has reached this level, there will be a root, reason or cause. It is often caused by a significant negative experience, mistake or failure in the past. Any thought of risking failure again triggers those same strong negative emotions experienced back then. A goal is consciously or subconsciously set ‘not to ever risk that failure again for the rest of my life’. Now it has become a limiting belief held at the subconscious level. We are driven by the beliefs held in the subconscious mind.
Our beliefs are like a computer program in that they will keep running until the program is changed. If there is a conflict between your conscious choices and your subconscious beliefs, the subconscious mind will always be stronger than, and override conscious willpower. In these cases, trying to think logically and apply coaching strategies will only have limited success. The limiting belief is putting a glass ceiling in your own way and blocking you from progressing beyond it!
It’s why the conscious mind’s New Year Resolutions so often fail. If the subconscious mind has a conflicting program running, it takes too much conscious willpower to fight it, and the subconscious limiting beliefs will win in the end. For example, when someone consciously sets their mind on starting their own business, they will find themselves procrastinating and lacking motivation if there is a conflicting subconscious program running, that says ‘I can’t make money, or I can’t be successful, or I’ll never amount to anything’.
If you think this has happened to you, do not beat yourself up for not having overcome your fear of taking risks yet. This is a situation that can be resolved with the help of a Hypnotherapist. I firmly believe that you cannot fix a problem that you don’t understand. The power of Hypnotherapy is that it can guide you to dialogue with the subconscious mind and discover the root and cause of a problem or limiting belief. Once you understand it, you can change it. Hypnosis can be used to access the subconscious mind to discover exactly how, why and when you acquired this limiting belief, so you can change the program and substitute your new self empowering beliefs, such as ‘money and success are available to me, I am enough, I believe in myself.’
The biggest risk is not taking a risk. If you are blocked from taking risks, for fear of failure, you let yourself live with the thought that your life will never change; that you’ll always stay where you are now. You don’t achieve your dreams by playing it safe. Find the support you need to remove the blocks, then take some calculated risks and live the life of your dreams.