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Give Up the Fear of Failure

I often hold on to my lie – the voice in my head that tells me I’m wrong and I’m not good enough. This lie shows up when stakes are high and resistance is strong.

From my lie I’ve developed behaviors and attitudes which often push me to act in ways which generate harm to myself and others, spiritually and mentally:

I strive for perfection, I critique myself, I compare myself to others, I procrastinate in fear of reaching a perfect final product that I miss the joy in the journey.

In yoga teacher training at Yoga One almost one year ago I stood in samasthiti face to face with my mat partner to recite the Journey into Power Sequence. Seeing my partner eye-to-eye, I felt streams of tears roll down my face. My throat tightened. My breath fluttered. My palms became balmy. My mind replaced my knowledge of the flow with narrative from my big lie. “If I don’t get this right, I won’t succeed. Why can’t I memorize the sequence in order? The teachers are going to see that I am not cut out for this. You are better than me.” It was destructive. It was consuming.

What I remember most in that moment of crumbling fear was hearing the teachers say, “Fail faster.”

The first time I heard this concept. I couldn’t fail. Why is failure desired? Failure is unacceptable.

Says who?

It was the first opportunity I had to give up what wasn’t serving me.

My fear of failure – as I understood failure to be. My utmost fear of failure stemmed from my authoritarian father – who no longer holds the role of power in my life. So why, I ask myself, have I held on to the same concepts which ruled me throughout childhood? What is possible when I give up the idea of failure and the fear of what happens when I experience failure?

I gained a new awareness. My fear of failure was blocking me. By focusing on getting things right I blocked myself from being present to the journey.

I spent years on my mat attempting postures with expectations of perfection. “I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough.” The lies creep back in where resistance is present. Failure transformed into growth opportunities in my yoga journey.

From awareness I moved into a space of acceptance.

I accepted that failure is part of the grand process of growth and learning. Acceptance that my yoga practice is exactly where it is meant to be: perfectly imperfect. Acceptance that I will mess up and make mistakes. It is when I give in to resistance and fear is where I truly lose power.

From awareness and acceptance, I made a declaration. In front of my yoga partner I declared, “Right now, I give up the need to get it right. I give up the fear of failure.”

Through this declaration I moved into possibility. To see the possibility of my fullest self-expression and trying on something new.

By giving up fear, perfection, and the concern for looking good I saw life through a new lens. I now take every opportunity to be seen when my lie tells me I’m not good enough, when I may not have the answers, and in my personal relationships when fear blocks my vulnerability. To show others in my life that when I give up what blocks me, it takes effort and attention, it is an ongoing process, and at no point do I become perfect in any way.

The act of giving up what I must creates space in my life to be a YES and to come from I am ready now.

Life on and off my mat gives me endless opportunities to put it all in practice and it is up to me to remain open and acknowledge when the rocks that block me show up and take an active role in removing them.

Written by Rebby Kern
Rebby Kern (they/them) is a wandering, spirited, exuberant soul dedicated to creating space for all people, inclusive of all identities. They incorporate tools for social change and personal empowerment in their practice and life. Their journey has led them here to Yoga One as a teacher, comrade and activist. Their yoga practice began in my living room and has grown through community which they are committed to share. Their practice also includes aerial silks and acro yoga. In their spare time, they crave the outdoors, watching films and singing off key in their car.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

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