Fear of failure

A couple weeks ago I blogged about Claire, one of the participants in Young, Autistic and Stagestruck. Claire was talking about making mistakes and how hard she finds life for fear of making mistakes. I drew the comparison between Claire and most of us, even if we rarely take the time out to realise that it is our own fears that are limiting us.

I’m now catching up on the later episodes of the programme and have been struck by the fabulous parents that these young people have. Each and every one of them is doing what they feel is best for their children, even when it is obvious at times that this is about as challenging as parenting can get. I’m not interested in passing judgement on whether they are doing the right thing, or the best thing, it’s not for me to comment but I think they are all trying hard to understand their children and the challenges that they face.

These parents also seem remarkably reflective. I’m not sure whether it is being involved in a programme like this, and someone actually asking you to think about things, or whether parents of any child with a disability are more inclined to question their experience anyway, but for me this programme has included some heartbreaking insights into their attempts to understand their children’s lives.

In Episode Two which can be viewed on C4OD, of particular note for me was Sabina, Mollie’s mum. Mollie is eleven and was diagnosed with autism when she was four. She also has PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) which essentially means that she will go out of her way to avoid everyday requests or demands placed on her. This is particularly apparent in the filming as more often than not Mollie chooses not to take part in the group activities.

Reflecting on why this is so, Sabina says:

All of her life she has a fear of failing I think…and I think that she would rather not do something than look stupid trying and looking like she’s failed doing it and I have no understanding why she feels like that.

I’d like to just offer the reflection that Mollie is not really any different to most of us; fear of failure is certainly something I can relate to and I suspect there are similarities not just to my own life, but to the lives of many others too. It is nearly always easier to lie low, to not raise your head above the parapet, to not try, to not take a risk and to not be seen to fail. How many of us can honestly say that we take each opportunity that presents itself to us with no thought given to failure? How much better would life be if we did? Fear of failure is something I have been meaning to blog about for a while and I’m glad that Mollie and Sabina reminded me and encouraged me to do so. So to finish, I thought you might all appreciate the following quote that the Prince of Wales made at the BBC back in 1933…a rallying call as apt now as it was then!

2 thoughts on “Fear of failure

  1. A very well written and well thought out piece. I find it strange that many people are driven to excel as much due to that same fear of failure as others shy away from trying. I can’t remember who originally said it but I think it has be paraphrased by Anthony Robins as ‘The only failure is not to try’

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