Fear of Failure

The word ‘mind-games’ is often taken to mean attempts by one person to influence another. It is well known in sporting circles where Coach A will falsely claim that his opponents in the forthcoming match are the favourites when everyone knows fine well that they are not. By this transparent stratagem, he aims to pile the pressure of expectation on Coach B and his team. But the games am I stealing up on here are those played by the mind against itself. I will start with a small, insignificant example and end with devastation.

My wife and I are partial to coffee and keep the necessary ingredients in a cupboard which contains the usual coffee, percolators and mugs. But notice also the clock on the wall.

So, to access these essentials of our addiction, I open the cupboard door.

No surprise there. But guess what? When I open this door, I obscure the clock on the wall.

At which point, having just obscured it, I am overcome with a desire to look at it and find out what the time is – and this from a man who never wears a watch. Which strikes me as strange. As an example of the mind at work against itself it is clearly a small one. After all, it’s easily solved. All I need to do is move the clock or train myself to check it before opening the cupboard door.

But I have seen the mind in conflict with itself at a much more serious level. The person in question has crippled herself for decades and, unfortunately, over a period of years, a crippling of the mind has led to a crippling of the body. Although there was nothing wrong with her legs to begin with, now she can no longer walk, partly because of muscle wastage but mainly because her knees are locked. And she has done this to herself.

I am not a shrink, but as far as I can tell the underlying process goes as follows.

  • I do not want to fail.
  • If I never attempt anything then I will never fail.

And this is obviously true. You could say she has failed at nothing because she has taken the precaution of attempting nothing. Unfortunately, the corollary of this principle is also true – if we never attempt anything then we never succeed either.

So where has this led? Since she never leaves her bedroom, let alone her house, she has succeeded in making herself entirely dependent on others. And this despite an impressive array of self-help books. What will her future hold? I have no idea, but know that I won’t be here to see it.

I could document this sad state of affairs with photographs but for obvious reasons have chosen not to do so.

4 thoughts on “Fear of Failure

  1. Diana Jackson – Fife, Scotland, UK – Author of 'Mystery Inspired by History' series,' 'Inspirational and Motivational' series and 'The Riduna' series, historical romantic fiction set in 19th and early 20th Century. Member of SOA. Websites: www.dianajacksonauthor.co.uk www.dianajacksonauthor.com Blog:www.dianamj.wordpress.com Riduna on Twitter and DianaJacksonauthor on Facebook too! To get in touch email: diana@dianajacksonauthor.com
    Diana Jackson on said:

    It is such a sad situation Rod when the mental health affects to physical health in such a detrimental way. Tragic. It takes a tough person to train themselves to rise above it, without intensive help.

    • rod – Edinburgh – My name is Rod Hart. I live in Edinburgh. I read a lot and write. Two novels have appeared so far. To keep my brain turning over, I am also learning Swedish.
      rod on said:

      In my experience, even intensive help makes little difference. Too bad, really.

      • Diana Jackson – Fife, Scotland, UK – Author of 'Mystery Inspired by History' series,' 'Inspirational and Motivational' series and 'The Riduna' series, historical romantic fiction set in 19th and early 20th Century. Member of SOA. Websites: www.dianajacksonauthor.co.uk www.dianajacksonauthor.com Blog:www.dianamj.wordpress.com Riduna on Twitter and DianaJacksonauthor on Facebook too! To get in touch email: diana@dianajacksonauthor.com
        Diana Jackson on said:

        Makes you feel so powerless. It is human nature to want to help.

      • rod – Edinburgh – My name is Rod Hart. I live in Edinburgh. I read a lot and write. Two novels have appeared so far. To keep my brain turning over, I am also learning Swedish.
        rod on said:

        Unless you’re Vladimir.

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