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SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim explains her secret for changing low self-esteem and lessening the fear of failure.
I have a constant fear of failure and never being good enough or having enough value. I am a 42-year-old man with a good marriage, a good job and great kids and I think about suicide daily. I wouldn’t do it because of how it would affect my kids, but I don’t know what to do or how to make changes in how I feel. How do you get to a point where you can truly believe you don’t have to earn your value and you can’t lose value (as you said in last week’s article)? How do I move beyond the fear of failure and not being good enough?
- Utah County Crisis Line: 801-226-4433
- Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
- Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
- Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386
Self-development experts, therapists, thought leaders and coaches have been trying to crack that code for decades. How do you really get rid of the fear of failure and improve the feeling of self-worth? They have tried positive psychology, brainwashing affirmations, encouraging accomplishments, makeovers and more, but still, most of us struggle with this fear on a daily basis. Some are lucky to be fear of loss dominate, which means they fear mistreatment, worry about things going wrong more than they worry about being inadequate, but even they have some fear of failure in play too.
I offer a different kind of solution, which involves changing the core foundational belief system you use to determine the value of human beings — including yourself — that is responsible for creating your fear of failure.
You might not be aware that you have a subconscious system that determines your value. So, let’s start there. You most likely picked up a belief system from your parents and the other people around you growing up. Here are four common belief systems; see if one or all of them are happening inside you.
1. You may have been taught life is a test
This means you must earn your value and prove yourself worthy, maybe even to determine where you go after death. You may have fear around being found good enough for the higher power you believe in and that higher power's judgment or rejection.
2. You may have been taught your value had to be earned through your appearance, performance, property and the opinions of other people
This means that if you believe your appearance is less attractive than other people, you, therefore, have less value than them. If you earn less money, lose more games, accomplish less, get lower grades, live in a smaller house, drive a worse car, have an older phone, wear cheaper clothing or are less popular, then you believe you have less value. You may think people with lots of friends have more value than those with less. Most of us were taught this belief in some way.
3. You may have been taught your value is determined by how you compare with others
So, you might constantly look at where they are, how they look, and what they do, and your self-esteem goes up and down all day, every day because it’s based on how you compare to whoever is around you at that time.
4. You may have been taught that winning and being better than others is what matters most
You might be super competitive and your subconscious ego might look for opportunities to put others down or gossip about them because it’s all about being better than them. You might be critical and judgmental of those who are different from you because you believe if they are different they have to be either better or worse. Your ego might feel safer if they are worse, so you constantly look for the worse in others and focus on it.
All of these are just ideas, theories, beliefs and perspectives. They are not truths. They are not facts. There is no provable truth about human value and how to calculate it. These are all simply perspective you choose. Those with strong religious beliefs might disagree and say they know their perspective is truth, but they can’t prove it. So, in the end, you are always choosing a belief system and making it your truth.
The good news is this means you can choose any belief system you want because they are all about perspective. So, I would recommend choosing a system that makes you feel good about yourself and makes you feel safer in the world.
The belief system I recommend is a simple one — though making it your truth takes time and practice. It is simply the belief that all human life has the same value and that value cannot change. Here is how this new belief system changes the four previous ones:
1. Life is not a test to determine your value, it is a classroom
In a classroom, every experience is a lesson to educate you, but when you make mistakes you can and try again without it affecting your value. You can choose to believe that repentance, apologies and starting fresh at any time is possible and you can move forward with the same value as everyone else. You can believe in a higher power that sent you here to be educated and allows you to repent and not lose your value for a mistake.
2. Your value is based on your uniqueness and your nature as a human soul — two things that never change
This means your value is not based on your appearance, performance, property, or what others think of you. This means on bad hair days you remind yourself appearance doesn’t lessen your value. When you perform badly, it’s a lesson but it doesn’t change your value. When others have nicer things than you have that doesn’t give them more value than you. No matter what they have or how they look, they still have the same value as everyone else. It also makes you bulletproof from disapproval or criticism because other people’s opinions can’t change your value — as long as you choose to believe this is true.
3. How you compare with others is irrelevant
How they look and what they do doesn’t mean anything about you. If you start to compare yourself, then you can choose to stop and believe that all humans have the same value. The only moment you have the power of choice in, is this one right now. Fortunately, it is always this moment, so you can always choose it.
4. Giving up judgment and criticism is the path to peace
Your subconscious ego might think criticizing and judging others and focusing on the bad in them makes you feel better, but every time you do this you are giving power to the old belief that some humans have more value than others. If you want to feel more confident, then you must absolutely give up judgment, gossip and criticism of others. This is the only way to cement the new belief, internalize it and improve your self-esteem.
You asked me “How do you truly believe you don’t have to earn your value and you can’t lose value?” The answer is you change the foundational belief about the value of all humans that created the fear in the first place. You give up judgment and allow all the humans around you to have infinite, absolute value and the more you do it, you realize it counts for you too.
Then, you must practice choosing a new belief system every minute you are consciously aware enough to do it. You may also want to teach this belief system and language to your family so everyone is on board to make the change. This should become the language in your home every time someone loses a game, drops a glass and breaks it, or comes home defeated, say “Well, at least it doesn’t change your value!” If someone starts judging or gossiping, you can remind them they are giving power to the old system and if they do that, then they will always feel not good enough themselves. It takes commitment and repetition to change your foundational beliefs but if you keep at it, it will work.
You can do this.
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