Fear of failure doesn't let me move forward. Stuck and Overwhelmed !!

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  • #77044

    I have been an avid reader and contributer to tiny buddha community in the past. I love the support you guys provide for each other.
    I just wanted to share my little story of self doubts. I came out of an abusive relationship which took it’s toll on me pretty bad last year. While I had my periods of successes and failures, it was some journey for me to understand myself. I was doing pretty well until the end of last year and then things started to relapse. At this point, I feel so stuck and lagging in my life. Day in and day out I worry myself over the things that I am suppose to do but can’t do. There is some unknown fear of failure. I stay where I am because I am comfortable, it’s a known territory to me. When there is uncertainty there is a LOT of fear. I feel like I don’t embrace uncertainty in my life and take enough risks. Thought of being a failure in other people’s eyes – especially my ex who always looked down on me and treated me poorly, my friends who are quite critical, my family who depends on me financially. All of this overwhelms me so much that I don’t even try to aim high. I keep putting potential job prospects off and keep on making excuses. I am way overqualified for the job I am at now but I stay where I am – comfortable. I am so afraid to aim high and fall down. Being in my mid twenties, I often end up comparing myself to others. Most of my friends and family members have moved out of their respective homes, starting a family, getting married, have a career, making babies and here I am still struggling to go back to graduate school and finally have a real profession. I unwittingly picked a major in undergrad that I can’t do much with unless I get a graduate degree.

    The sad thing is, I get so bogged down by everything going on since so many people depend on me financially. My parents are getting old and almost retiring. They never had a stable income plan. I am their support system, going back to school is something I thought, would benefit all of us. I can get a part time graduate degree, work full time so I can support myself and family.

    But I can’t even seem to apply for any job let alone for the ones I am most qualified for. I just keep thinking ” why would they hire me why even bother”, I don’t know where this lack of belief stems from. Although I have an academically sound background but that feels that it is not good enough. The gist of the story is, how do you get unstuck ? I have been ignoring my health too and I have reached a point of mental and physical exhaustion where I am dependent on antidepressants. My body is burnt out, I haven’t gone to work in one week and if this continues I might lose the job I have.

    I don’t know anymore, where to begin, how to gather myself to stand up and act on my wants more. I am so in tune with my needs and desires, but what good is awareness if we are not listening to it and acting in accordance. I need a solid balancing act between managing my priorities, potential relationships ( which I keep getting into using them as an escape from all of this and then getting out after wasting enough time and energy on people that are not good for me) I need healing, I am bed ridden and deprived of energy. I want to get back up and start somewhere… but where ? How do you guys get up in times like these? I am literally ill and mentally drained at such a young age. It’s such a tragedy

    I such a hot mess, sorry for fragments.

    • This topic was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Zita.

    I think part of you resents that you are a lifeline for so many. It feels more overwhelming (the idea of caring for so many others) than to actually fail. It may not be fear of failure but fear of commitment to those who are swarming in need.

    Also an even bigger factor is the abusive relationship from which you are recovering. Get therapy for this. Get up and get going. You get unstuck by letting go of the negativity the abuser brought into your life. You forgive yourself for staying there (or even going there…how could you have known…and now you know..so it’s time to move on.)

    You are able to express yourself well. Count all the positives.

    You need to get to your job. You may need to adjust your meds (are you taking them as prescribed? Are you on other meds that may counter act it? Are you drinking?) If you are using any other thing in your life (alcohol, drugs) it will not let the anti depressants do their proper job.

    Life’s hard. I understand this…but you’ve got ONE to live…and if you don’t live it, no one else will.

    We all have hard stuff. Life can be hard at times and it’s important to remember that the sun will rise again. Get up…try again. Be positive with yourself. If you don’t take care of you, no one else will.

    Have a discussion with your parents. You say they are close to retiring…well, if they are unprepared for it, they shouldn’t retire. Period.

    And if you live at home with them…maybe it’s time to stop.

    If you don’t live at home with them there are agencies to help them with their stuff.

    There is HOPA housing for old persons…

    there are many routes to calmly investigate.

    That said, if you feel like doing nothing…that is your choice.

    Your life is your choice.

    I wish you well with your choices.


    Hi Zita,

    What culture are you from? Because honestly no parents I know would lay this trip on their child. I’d rather eat rice living in my car than have my kid take care of me. 65 is not old, retired, or dead in my book. We come from families that live well into their 80s and 90s. They’d live simply, and be as vibrant as ever.

    The ex: Let me tell you, even if you did “well” he would still look down on you ONLY because people don’t like to be proven wrong! Why do you think they say “Living well is the best revenge”? All being successful will do is make him pissed. So who cares about what he thinks??

    Friend: Get new ones.

    Work: Just get up and show up. Showing up is 90% of life.

    Grad Schools: Apply. You have several months before applications for Fall 2016 would be due. Relax until then, but apply.

    Other Work: Frankly, in this economy, you might not get anything (YET!). Think of it as one more day the Universe will let you live in your comfort zone (Yay! That is secretly what you want!) but keep searching out new opportunities. Follow them, and something will fall into place.

    Move: Put the ‘rents in affordable housing or senior housing and get a modest apartment with roommates. Time to live like you’re 20!

    Family/Marriage/Kids: You still have a decade to enjoy yourself. Relax about this now!

    Good Luck!


    • This reply was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Inky.

    Dear Zita:
    I think that it is not fair, not right for a young person, only in mid twenties, to be financially responsible for parents and others (siblings?) You should be living YOUR OWN life, not be burdened with taking care of others. You should be making and spending money on yourself, on promoting your best interest, not others’.

    Isn’t the part of you that knows this- says: why should i get out of bed- why should i work when it is not MY best interest i am working for? We are animals, organisms and like ALL organisms, we are biologically motivated to promote our best interest. We are biologically motivated to do for others only when it is a Win-Win situation for us. It is TIRING, exhausting, depressing to work AGAINST our best interest.

    What do you think???

    Take care:

    Todd Corbett


    I love inspirational quotes. Here’s a good one for you:

    “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”
    -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

    It seems your inner light has been completely cut off. I agree with Anita in that maybe you just need to do something for YOURSELF. It’s actually OK to be a little selfish sometimes. Take some time to do something that makes you truly happy, a hobby, an activity, something you enjoy. If nothing seems enjoyable, do something that USED to make you happy, and keep doing it, the joy will soon return. Use that to “fan the flames” of your inner light. Over time, you’ll want more of that spark of happiness, and you can use that as motivation to try new things and build the self-confidence you need to conquer your fears.

    Good Luck!
    Todd Corbett – http://www.the9to5life.com

    Brandon Kraemer

    I’ve been there. A lot of people have. Circumstances for each are of course different but the devil isn’t always in these details.

    The devil is in not having the confidence, the believe that you can’t get out of your comfort zone. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Part of you might not really want to make change for yourself because as you said, it is what you know. We know a lot of terrible things in our lives: what we can’t accomplish, why we aren’t good enough for someone else, why it’s too difficult to try, etc. So how do you get to know a lot of positive things?

    You talk about worring yourself over the change you seek that you think is “some unknown fear of failure” stemming from “the things that I am suppose to do but can’t do”. STOP RIGHT THERE.

    “Suppose to do”? What do you WANT to do?

    Seriously. Do you WANT to get this grad degree? Really? Maybe yes, maybe no. However, STOP thinking about the world (aka yourself) in terms of what you are suppose to do. It’s not working for you, it didn’t work for me and it doesn’t really hold the keys to anything for anyone. If you go about life with this kind of thinking there is a very high chance you will be miserable. I think you are already half way there. Time to change that by asking yourself: what do I want to do?

    I am not talking about shirking off your important responsibilities like taking care of your children and arguably more importantly, YOURSELF, but I am talking about finding the courage to decide what you really want your life to be about and not what you think it’s supposed to be about because of your believe of what someone else’s opinion of your life is, be that your parents, your ex’s, your friends. This can be a very deep rooted thing to explore but it’s so worth the pain and the time because you lie within that and there is nothing more important that you.

    It will not happen overnight. No real change does and when I was in the place you are now I felt like these decisions, these changes I wanted to find and figure out, that they had to come in the form of a light switch moment and I was looking for others input as if that would make everything right. As it turns out I still occasionally do this but what actually came about was a slow and steady change to where I started making change for myself by forgiving myself and releasing myself from the should’s of life and putting the focus on my health which gave me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone and find the more authentic me.

    A support system does help, so if your friends don’t get this (and many of mine didn’t either, even the best of them could only somewhat see what I was thinking because they aren’t me) and your kids are too young (and they have their own lives too) and your parents are too set in their ways of fear and dependance (maybe they are, maybe it’s how you see them) then you need to find some support. Another person on this thread mentioned therapy, and that can be very helpful. There is no shame in that just be sure it’s the right person and don’t settle if you go down that path.

    But here is some direct advice I can share because it worked for me.

    Start making some very small change. There is a concept I love called “find your leaver”. The idea is you do one thing and make that a new habit. It has to be healthy and it has to be something you want to do, maybe you don’t realize you want to do it at first. I stopped eating all grains. That sounds hard but it wasn’t really, my body and my pallet changed to adapt to this very quickly and this lead to me having much less digestive issues, which I always had due to chronic stress. Feeling better I found I was cycling more for fun. Then I started meditating for 5 minutes in the middle of my bike rides. Then I started doing TRX classes. Oh and I quit my soul sucking job and started freelancing. None of this happened overnight and one thing gradually led into another and into another.

    The real takeaway for me is, I’m not finished. This is a path I am now on, and I can’t imagine my life different from this now but it’s not a light switch change that is “over” once complete. It’s something I learned somewhat to my surprise because I was so stuck in unhealthy habits of pleasing others, of worrying about the future, of eating a crap diet and abusing caffeine, etc… I learned that my new ways were enjoyable, that I WANTED to do them and forgot all about what I SHOULD be doing.

    You might find that something completely different than looking for the answers to your grad school question etc will in time bring about the answers to those same questions. Maybe you need to take a break from that focus because you mind is in a rut. Try focusing on something else, like your health, just for a day, a week, one month. Consider it a vacation from your worry self. Notice not only how you feel about this but how other people you care about respond (subtle) to this. When you put you first, can you let go of your own need to have others need you?

    Love and Light.



    Hi Zita. Fear of failure and fear of being judged negatively by others are symptoms of low self esteem. You said you don’t know where these feelings of inferiority come from. These fears that you describe can be paralyzing. Thats why you are staying in your comfort zone. I think professional help is needed to get unstuck. A therapist or counselor who is an expert in self esteem issues can help you develop CBT or self compassion skills that will help you change these negative thoughts about yourself. Best of luck.

    Bethany Rosselit

    Hi Zita,

    Why do you think it is that you doubt yourself so much? A lot of times we develop fear-based beliefs about ourselves, which was subconsciously believe to be gospel truth. As long as we hold these beliefs, our minds can only see “evidence” proving them to be true. And so we act in a way that turns them into reality!

    Be curious with your own mind. When you have doubts, ask “Why do I think this?” Start looking for the “evidence” that your mind is providing. This will help you to bring those subconscious beliefs out into the light, so that you can work toward redefining them. It takes a lot of time, but it is worth it.


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