Fear in a Hat

Fear in a Hat, is a group activity, commonly used as an icebreaker in therapy groups. Everyone sits in a circle, passing a hat around, dropping in little pieces of folded paper, with an anonymous line about their greatest fears. Once everyone has placed their fear in the hat, each person takes turns pulling out a little piece of paper, unfolding it to read the other person’s fears.

The most common fear never comes as a surprise. If there are 6 members in the group, 4 of them have a "Fear of Failure". No one knows who wrote it, but they all feel connected by the emotion of fear. Fear of failure is a powerful emotion, one that could cost you all of your hopes and dreams.

Fear of Failure

The truth is we do not fear failure. We fear the emotions that come with failure: shame, guilt, sadness, anger, hopelessness, resentment.

We fear the meaning we place on failure, "I'm dumb, I'm too old, It's too late!" When I was growing up, I viewed failure as some sort of punishment by God, for disobedience or whatever warped reason. I thought failure was bad. Now I fail forward into progress.

I help women deal with failure daily. When I begin working through the emotions of failure with my clients, there is a shift. What happens next is simply nothing but amazing, because the shift forever changes failure in their minds.


5 Ways Failure Forwards Progress

  1. Failure requires you to re-assess and re-evaluate. Perhaps there is something you missed. There was a detail or perspective you didn't pay attention to. This missing component could have been harmful to your end goals. When you re-assess and re-evaluate, you now have to look at ways you can improve. You may create a new strategy, gain some new tools, or acquire support. The only way to go is up!

  2. Failure cancels resistance. If you are resisting a change or afraid of trying something failure forces you to move toward the very thing you are resisting. You may not be achieving what you desire, because you are afraid to move forward, being stagnant is what is causing the failure. When you approach the thing you are afraid of with confidence and an intention to grow from it, you realize that the failure didn’t happen to you, it happened for you.

  3. Failure breaks dysfunctional cycles. If you are a procrastinator, if you are negligent, if you are hasty, if you are careless... you get the point! If you have a pattern that no longer serves you or creates more problems than solutions, it's time to break the cycle.

  4. Failure forces movement in a new direction. If you were doing something the same way and getting the same results, the logical thing to do is trying a new direction, start doing things a new way. When you start trying new things, you realize that without that failure you may not have discovered something, learned something, or experienced something valuable.

  5. Failure builds mental muscle. If you continue to fail at something, you will have to access strengths that you will use over and over. You will build mental strength and endurance. When you overcome a failure once and then twice, the third time you will feel more confident and in control. You will manage your emotions about the failure better and bounce back faster.

Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/@joshua-mcknight-442355


Learning Experience

Now that you are aware, you can begin to shift your mindset towards progress. To bring some awareness and insight into your past failures you can process your thoughts in your journal. 

You may see the failure as a growth opportunity, you may see it as a message, you may even see it as a necessary event to activate a strength, that can catapult you into pattern of success.

Your Journal Prompt (Pen, Paper, 5 minutes)

From 1-5 write all the ways failure has forwarded your progress. Use a past or current experience, and be as detailed as possible. What did you notice? Do you feel different about that failure now?

I'd love to hear about your experience writing this journal prompt! Let's connect by email askcoachsen@gmail.com.