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Failure is a necessary part of success. In order for us to grow in any area, relationships, career, or physical health for example, we must be willing to take a risk. And yet, so many of us play it safe, unwilling to put ourselves out there for fear of failing.

Learning to “have your own back” can be an effective tool that enables you to step out of your comfort zone and accomplish more in life.

When we say we’re afraid of failure, what are we actually afraid of?

At first, we might answer that we’re afraid of loss, perhaps money, status, reputation, or material belongings. Those are all possibilities, depending on the risk, but for the most part, the thing that keeps us from taking a step toward what we want is fear of a feeling.

Feelings of humiliation, disappointment, or inadequacy are painful. If we have experienced any of those things, we will be averse to ever being in a situation where we might feel them again. Failure is teeming with danger when we’re trying to keep ourselves safe from the searing pain of shame. It’s only natural that we avoid ever being exposed.

However, staying safe also keeps you from the things that you want. So if you feel stuck and want to move forward, try a new career path, look for a new relationship, attend dance classes, or write your book, having your own back is a workaround that can get you going.

Feelings of humiliation or inadequacy don’t actually come from failing. They come from our thoughts about failing. No matter how much we want to blame outside forces, we are the only person responsible for what we feel. Even if you fall flat on your face and people point and laugh, it doesn’t hurt until you have thoughts about it. “I’m such an idiot,” “How could I be so stupid?,” “People are cruel.”

The thoughts you allow after failing are what cause your pain. We are masters at beating ourselves up. We are our own worst critics.

The pain we fear the most is caused by our own thoughts.

When we change the dialogue in our minds, when we choose kinder, gentler thoughts, failure loses its sting and we feel safer to take those risks.

We begin to trust that when we fall down, instead of self-flagellating, we can self-soothe, extend grace and compassion toward ourselves, and help ourselves back up. We can then learn from our failures and keep going.

I bought my granddaughter a darling Radio Flyer tricycle. If she’s riding along and turns her head back to see if we’re watching and subsequently topples over the curb, am I going to start telling her what she did wrong, how stupid she was to turn her head, and suggest she never try riding a bike again? No! Of course not. I’m going to run to her, hold and comfort her, and gently encourage her until she’s ready to get back on that trike again.

If we could extend an ounce of that nurturing toward ourselves when we fall off the curb, we would get back up on our bikes so much quicker.

We may believe that extending grace to ourselves will make us weaker. In order to succeed we must be harsh and demanding. The truth is if that’s how we treat ourselves when we fail, we will subconsciously avoid failure. We won’t take the leaps that lead to the life we were made for.

Learn how to have your own back by becoming aware of your inner dialogue when you fail. Find a couple of go-to thoughts that you can tell yourself instead. “I’m just so very human right now” or “I keep learning more and getting better” are two great ones. When you are your own best friend and you learn to recover from failure quicker, you become unstoppable.

Rebecca Stark is a Mastery Certified Life Coach and the owner of Rebecca Stark Coaching. You can contact her at 720-412-6148 or visit rebeccastarkcoaching.com   If you have questions you would like answered in this article, or would like to inquire about coaching please submit to rebecca@rebeccastarkcoaching.com.

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