5 Tips On How to Overcome Your Fear of Mistakes

Remember feeling scared to death the first time you came face to face with a flying cockroach? Science has it that a fear centre in the brain is activated when people are confronted with a creature they fear — the same part of the brain that lights up when we are afraid of making a mistake.

At EduPivot, we believe that it is all right to make mistakes. Making mistakes allows us to re-examine our actions and thoughts, encouraging us to come out with better alternatives. It gives us a better understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, providing an avenue for us to learn and grow. 

However, it is understandable that most of us are afraid of making mistakes. We tend to shy away from making mistakes as we see them as a source of embarrassment. However, research has shown that mistakes are critical to achieving success. When one commits an error, the mind undergoes a process of cognitive reckoning that allows it to build more accurate and reliable solutions for the problems it encounters. 

To overcome our fear of mistakes, we have to rewire our minds to accept failure as a path to learning. Here are some steps to adopt such a mindset:

Recognize Your Fear

Are you too afraid to approach your teacher when you have no idea how to proceed with a Math problem? Pause and take a deep breath. Identify the roots of your fear. Perhaps you are afraid that asking questions will make you seem foolish, or that you will be scolded even though you’ve been paying rapt attention in class. Put aside those destructive thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Asking questions will not simply help you understand what you’re learning, it will also help your teachers give you better guidance on your learning journey. It is unlikely for teachers to reprimand you for asking questions and making mistakes. In fact, it helps them to gain a better understanding of what you do not understand. Subsequently, they can focus on catering to your needs, ensuring productive learning. 

Think in Rough Drafts

Whether it’s a lengthy algebra problem or an English essay, give yourself room to make mistakes. Put aside sufficient time for multiple drafts before your final submission. Each draft gives you the opportunity to clarify your thoughts and tighten your grasp of the assignment in hand. This helps foster intellectual risk-taking and helps you cultivate the mindset that mistakes are part of the process to success.

Openly Discuss Your Mistakes

Getting rid of the stigma that comes with making mistakes begins with you. Talk openly about the mistakes you make. As such, that feeling of discomfort that you experience initially will most likely fade away to be replaced by relief and a renewed focus. Additionally, those around you will feel more comfortable letting their barriers down when they hear you being forthright about your missteps. Fostering such an open and non-judgemental environment allows everyone in the sphere to recognize how they can tackle problems better and steer towards effective solutions.

Redefine Your Idea of Failure and Success

Most of us are worried about making mistakes and not meeting expectations. Our mind may start to come up with the worst case scenario, further increasing our fear of making mistakes. Instead of having such negative thoughts, express them in a lighter and less oppressive manner. For example, instead of thinking of failing your Math paper as a failure, you can define failure as not being able to answer questions from a certain chapter. Additionally, redefine your idea of success. Perhaps you did well in answering a question which you used to always struggle with; or that you managed to complete the paper in time.

With the change in mentality regarding your idea of success and failure, you would feel less discouraged in the event of failure. In fact, you can even take it as a learning experience! Besides making you feel less anxious about failing or making mistakes, this tip helps you identify the areas you need to improve on. It helps guide you to learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating the same mistakes again. 

Set Goals 

Setting goals may be challenging especially when we are unsure of what we want to achieve in the future, or even in the present. However, setting goals helps to guide us to decide where we want to go in life. Start off by setting small goals which are relatively easy to achieve. For example, instead of aiming to immediately get an ‘A’ from a ‘D’ for your next Physics exam, aim for an improvement of 10 marks. Continue to keep this up until you reach your end goal!

Furthermore, try not to put too much emphasis on your end goal. Simply focus on the small steps you are taking. This will help boost your confidence and prevents you from getting overwhelmed by your end goal. Setting small and achievable goals allow us to have a clearer picture of what we are accomplishing as well as the challenges we encounter along the way. Mistakes that are made during the process can be easily identified and fixed. Upon reaching our end goal, you would have realised that the mistakes you have made are minimal. They are also much easier to be tackled as compared to the mistakes you make while solely focusing on your end goal. This minimises your fear of making mistakes, keeping you going.

Conclusion:

Making mistakes is an inevitable part of our learning process. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It helps us to understand what works and what doesn’t from each mistake we encounter, enhancing our knowledge. Feeling overwhelmed by the fear of making mistakes or not being good enough can prevent us from performing our tasks efficiently. Learn to embrace the possibility of failure and making mistakes. They are great engines for long-term growth if you take the time to carefully unpack their lessons.

Want to learn more about yourself and how you can further improve your personal development skills? Do feel free to reach out to us and let us help you! 

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