In Person and Online Therapy Sessions Available | (616) 309 0737
2460 Burton St SE #101, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
In Person and Online Therapy Sessions Available | (616) 309 0737
2460 Burton St SE #101, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Could a Fear of Failure Be Fueling Your Social Anxiety?

Maybe you’ve been called “shy” for much of your life. Deep down inside, it feels like more than that, but you pushed aside thoughts of an anxiety disorder. As years — or even decades — passed, you found yourself typing “social anxiety” into your nearest search engine. A light bulb went off as you read the list of common symptoms. But how did this happen?

One common cause is not getting enough attention. Having a fear of failure is not unusual, but it can result in some unpleasant outcomes — for example, social anxiety. The two issues reinforce and trigger each other. Left unchecked, such a scenario can hamper your daily life.

The Fear of Failure and Social Anxiety Connection 

Photograph of a Sad Man

Technically called “atychiphobia,” a fear of failure involves an intense feeling caused by contemplating anything less than perfection in your efforts, actions, and life. It causes you to put off trying activities unless you feel certain you will do well. This kind of procrastination often leads to withdrawal and isolation.

Social anxiety is one of several forms of anxiety disorders. It’s highlighted by an irrational self-consciousness and a fear of embarrassment. People with social anxiety do not want to be watched or judged. Therefore, it can also cause them to put off trying activities and slip into isolation.

The combination of social anxiety and a fear of failure can result in signs and symptoms like:

  • Unrealistic expectations of yourself (and sometimes others)
  • Zero tolerance for making mistakes 
  • People pleasing
  • Always expecting the worst-case scenario 

People with a history of trauma and/or being teased and bullied have a higher risk of struggling with these problems. Identifying how a fear of failure exacerbates social anxiety is a powerful first step. 

How a Fear of Failure Can Be Fueling Your Social Anxiety

Low Self-Esteem

It’s virtually impossible to sustain self-confidence when even a minor setback feels like a disaster. If your self-worth is tied to your ability to perform everything flawlessly, it can create a cycle of fear, anxiety, and self-sabotage.

Self-Limiting Choices

The person who replays all their perceived “failures” in their mind is the person who will try to control their circumstances. Every aspect of their life must be set up to limit any chance of embarrassment or failure. This obviously has a detrimental impact on one’s social life, career, and dating (see below). 

Relationship Problems 

By definition, relationships require a lot of vulnerability. For someone with a fear of failure-fueled social anxiety, this is a major obstacle. If you’re unhappy with yourself, it’s a major challenge to believe others will be attracted to you. On top of that, the risk of rejection inherent in the dating world can feel overwhelming. 

Withdrawal and Isolation

After reading the three sections above, it should come as no surprise that social anxiety and a fear of failure are a recipe for loneliness. Rather than risk embarrassment, it feels safer to hide away from most interactions. Unfortunately, such a choice typically results in more mental health problems. For example, adding depression to the mix only serves to deepen the beliefs cultivated by the fear of failure and anxiety combination.

Dealing with a Fear of Failure/Social Anxiety

As daunting as all this sounds, this scenario can be treated and managed. Connecting with a therapist is an ideal way to learn more about the root causes of your specific case. At the same time, there are fundamental self-help steps to try. For example:

  • Reimagining and reinventing what failure and success mean to you
  • Integrating self-care and self-compassion rituals into your life
  • Gradually easing yourself into social situations

If you’d like to talk more about anxiety therapy, I invite you to reach out at your earliest convenience. 

Related Posts

Contact Us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.