How Using the “F” Word Can Hold You Back

While swearing like you just hit your hand with the full force of a hammer can definitely limit you in certain circumstances, that isn’t the “F” word that I am referring to. I am talking about a different “F” word - failure.

Although failure is only a word, it is an extremely powerful one as the very fear of it has the capability of keeping you from realizing your full potential. And, the more often you put this one simple word into your vocabulary, the worse off you’ll be.

Here are some ways that using the “F” word can hold you back (and what you can do to make sure they don’t happen):

You don’t even try

How many times have you put the kibosh to an idea simply because you didn’t want to risk failure? One? Ten? One hundred?

When you don’t even try something because you fear that you won’t succeed, you certainly don’t risk failure. But, you also don’t enjoy success. You can’t because you did nothing to even attempt to reach it.

Be open minded when it comes to trying new things. No one expects you to ace something the first time you try it, so be kind to yourself. Let yourself experience new situations and activities. Who knows? You may just find something that is so much fun that you make it a regular part of your everyday life.

You try, but only half heartedly


Okay. Maybe you agree to try something new, but you don’t put your entire spirit into it. You only do minimal work. That way, if you don’t succeed, you can blame it on the fact that you didn’t really try.

While it’s commendable that you at least gave it a shot, what’s the point if you’re allowing yourself to fail before you even begin? And, how much fun are you going to have thinking about your pending ‘failure’ the whole time?

If you’re going to involve yourself in something, don’t do it with the intent of only giving partial effort. The point isn’t to show that you’re a master at whatever it is the first time you do it. Just have fun and create memories. That’s what is important.

You put your entire heart into something, but decide that failure will be the result before you even start

The greatest example of this is with dieting. How many times have you started an eating and exercise plan only to say to yourself (or to others), “This isn’t going to last, but I’ll try it anyway”? If you’re honest, you’ll probably realize that you’ve said or thought this all along.

The problem with this way of thinking is that it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your thoughts direct your actions. So, if you think it, you make it come true. You will fail.

This can be one of the hardest things to stop because, for a lot of women, it comes as second nature. It is almost an unconscious thought that occurs without even realizing it. Recognizing it is the first step. Overcoming it will take some time.

So, how do you overcome the power of the “F” word?


The answer is quite simple, yet it will still take some practice and patience on your part to remove the word failure from your vocabulary. You’re going to be undoing years of the “F” word habit, so it will require some persistence on your part. But, you can do it.

Here’s how:

Don’t let failure be an option

If you start any endeavor with the possibility that you will not succeed, then you’re giving yourself an out. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll take it every time.

Instead of beginning a new diet, workout regimen or any other positive change in your life with the idea that you may not do as well as you like, decide at the forefront that you’ll accept nothing less than success.

That way, you won’t let yourself slide and pretend that little things don’t matter. You’ll hold yourself accountable and do whatever it takes to reach your goals.

Change how you view failure

If you look at failure as a negative thing (an inability to achieve your intended result), of course you’re going to dread it. And, you’re going to avoid it at all costs.

However, when you try something and it doesn’t work out as planned, that doesn’t make it a failure. It makes it a learning experience. You’ve just found one way to come up with a different result. Sure, maybe it wasn’t the one you were looking for, but that is okay.

It’s like the story of the inventor of WD-40. This lubricant got its name because it took 40 tries before it worked as intended (the name means “water displacement 40th attempt”). Had the inventors stopped at the 39th attempt, they would have been deemed “failures”. But, their perseverance paid off because they continued until they found success.

Use failure to motivate you


Admittedly, this can be a tough concept to grasp, but it is possible to use failure as a push to keep you moving in the right direction. Just remember that with every “no” answer you get in your quest, you’re one step closer to a “yes”.

Statistical analysts will tell you that you can only hear the word “no” a certain number of times before you will eventually hear the word “yes”. So, if you’re trying to find your path to success, the power lies in having more strength and stamina than the “no” answers and keeping yourself in the game to wait for the “yes” that will inevitably come your way.

In other words, with every “no” that you get (or failure that you encounter), understand that it puts you one step closer to the “yes” or the success that you’re sure to find. Welcome it with open arms as it will confirm that the path that will eventually lead you exactly where you want to be.

Failure doesn’t have to limit you it if you don’t let it. Make it a word that empowers you to go where you’ve never gone before. Use it to reach the goals that you’ve always wanted to reach. After all, it’s just a word that will only hold as much meaning as you let it.

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About the author

Christina DeBusk

Changing careers mid-life from law enforcement to writing, Christina spends her days helping others enrich their businesses and personal lives one word at a time.

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