The Fear of Failure When failures were dangerous in the past they terrify in the present
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A child fears failure when the normal stumblings of youth are repeatedly chastened with unpleasant parental rejection. The painful scolding burns inadequacy into young minds. The child doesn’t simply face the disappointment from an overmatched challenge but also confronts rejection for failing. Many children emerge scarred and scared; failure is unacceptable. This unfavorable gift of inadequacy bestows deep fears. The grown child’s harsh encounters with exploration colors new interpretations of risk, new encounters spark undue fear. The unpredictablness of new experiences alarms of looming disaster because of the chance of failure. These underlying fears, unless addressed, may forever stunt growth, preventing flourishing in love and life.
A tender rose bud, tightly enclosed, is not diseased. The bud is in process of becoming a radiant flower. We are in the process of becoming; a bud waiting to bloom; no matter what the beginning and the present, the future remains to be determined.
Growth is painful; but also pleasant.
The broken soul’s sensitivities jump at correction, igniting defensiveness, and fear. The slightest reminders of imperfection seem unbearable and worthy of attack. We can work to make the world kinder, adjusting to coddle our entrapping sensitivities, avoiding notable triggers, befriending softer personalities; but this alone is not enough (and limiting). A greater work should be directed inward, attending to the injured soul, directing compassion inward, embracing who we are in the present. Until the broken soul can do so, outside forces, no matter how kind, will always threaten.
A rose bud is simple, an inadequate example when compared to the complexities of self; perhaps we consider the rose bush. A rose bush is adorned with an array of flowers in various stages of blooming. We, even in brokenness, have some character traits in full bloom, and others struggling to form. The rose buds have beauty different from the bursting floral beauty of a mature flower. Within the bud is the grand potential for color and intoxicating fragrance. We don’t carelessly clip the forming buds because of current lack. Instead, we make room for the bloom. We find areas to prune, eliminating unproductive branches and withering flowers, allocating more nourishment to the tender buds.
Growth requires tender care—not carelessly tearing the undesirable from the whole. We gently, carefully, and lovingly trim, nourish and care for the soul. Many lost souls need guidance in this task, being raised in a critical and harsh world of punishing remarks, they have adopted patterns internally, becoming a self-berating critic.
"Growth requires tender care—not carelessly tearing the undesirable from the whole."
The effective approaches to improvement require practice, persistence and patience. Growth isn’t easy. The paths to take often are too demanding. There are no quick fixes and easy escapes from trying pasts. When we undertake the work with false expectations of a magical transformation, discouragement accompanies the eventual collisions with reality.
We must embrace change with kindness, identifying weakness with curiosity, understanding, and persistence. Growth can be an exciting process—not to be feared but embraced. Yet when approached with childhood fears, change intimidates; self-enlightenment is avoided. The past keeps replaying childhood dramas. We soothe our fears by burying weaknesses, hiding the imperfections and feigning completeness.
We can escape these chains from the past holding us back; we must. We must compassionately attend to the emotional disruptions interfering with realistic views, distorting experience and blocking knowledge. This often requires outside assistance. But with proper guidance, and doses of humility, we progress, escaping the damaging sensitivities. The beauties of life begin to unfold in reality, opening to bright blooms. We will continue to carry imperfections and accompanying fears but now with hope and with hope we enjoy growth.