• H. M. L. Swann

#2 FEAR of FAILURE: Atychiphobia or kakorrhaphiophobia

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Atychiphobia or kakorrhaphiophobia. Say either of those ten times fast and I’ll give you a crisp virtual high five.

Both of these terms are tossed around the internet, both meaning an intense and debilitating fear of failure.

The fear of failure is something we’ve all experienced at some point or another, and probably to different extremes. Atychiphobia is an extreme feeling that can be caused by traumatic events. If this describes you, know that you are not alone. Reach out, seek help, or just talk about it with a trusted person. You deserve it. You are worth being heard.

Real talk. I'm an unpublished aspiring author. My work experience is all teaching-related and my undergrad was in music. I stopped working so I could start a master’s course in creative writing with peers that may be younger and more experienced than me. Am I afraid?

Yeah, I fucking am.

But why not gamble on myself? I truly believe that I mean obviously, or I wouldn’t have done what I did. I moved country, left my job, took out more loans, and enrolled in classes. I’m excited and nervous and ready to change the direction of my life.

And while I do all that, there’s a still a sneaking feeling in the back of my mind that says, what if it’s all for nothing?

What if I fail?

What if what I write is trash? What if I don’t get a job in the publishing industry? What if I go into a lot of debt and waste a year of my career taking the leap?

Conditional tense can be a scary thing.

So here are the 4 tips I’ve found that help me.

1. Name it

The food burns on the stove and I start to feel weepy. Am I that upset that I burnt the onions?


Sometimes it’s good to take stock in the fact the emotions don’t occur in isolated blocks of time. I don’t fear failing my course between 8 and 9 AM. It’s a low lingering burn like a hot chili pepper. Realizing that it may impact other aspects of my life is the first step to stopping it from consuming everything. If I realize what’s bothering me at the moment helps me address the root of the problem and control my reactions at the moment.

2. To-Do Lists

Now, this won’t work for everyone, but I’m a tactile person. I love writing out a list of to do’s and crossing them off as I go. Sometimes I even cheat and add extra things to the list because I’ve done something spontaneously. I add it so I can cross it off. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.

I use these lists as a way to reign in my lofty goals. I can’t make a list that reads:

1. Do dishes

2. Make bed

3. Write 85,000-word novel

You laugh now, but I’ve done similar silly things. Setting small goals helps me realize that I’m not automatically set to fail. I have control over my day and I can SUCCEED at small daily tasks. And that brings me to number 3

3. Mantras

I was really into new age kundalini yoga during my undergrad. Some of it may have been over the top, but this is a quote that resonated with me then and still does.

“what you say is the mantra of your life”

A mantra is a phrase that is repeated in the mind, or aloud as a chant, and it carries significant spiritual meaning. What I loved about the quote is that it empowered my thoughts. It made me realize that it doesn’t have to be ancient Sanskrit to have meaning. In fact, our daily thoughts train our minds.

Being kind to yourself is just as important as being kind to others. Be your biggest cheerleader. There will be plenty of people out there to tell us we are going to fail, why join them?

4. Real-world; real-talk.

Check into reality. What are the real-world signs that you are manifesting your dreams? Manage your expectations while keeping the big dream alive. And as always be ready to learn from your experiences, both positive and negative.

I'm always listening at twitter @hmlswann or reach out here



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