What if your fear of failure is really a fear of criticism? What if you procrastinate because criticism is too painful?
Have you ever met someone who is so full of talent that you can’t understand why they don’t move forward and make that thing their main focus, or source of income? Have you ever wondered why some people start, but don’t complete what they start? Have you ever wondered why you were once so excited about a fun project, but then left it alone for days, months, or even years?
Fear of criticism is one of the major causes of procrastination that I never hear people talk about. We hear about “fear of failure” and even “fear of success,” but what about the crippling fear that so many experience when they think, “What if I do it wrong?”
Let me say this. If you are a parent, teacher, or one who has children in your care, criticize less. Let them try things and feel the joy of it being good enough for them. Nitpicking about how the eyes on their drawing aren’t even or that they misspelled “grandma” on the card they made and the countless other times that you unnecessarily criticize them, is what creates that increasing distance between when they want to share their work and when they feel safe to.
I didn’t realize that the countless times that I was corrected about the stupidest things had such an impact on me until I was in meditation early. I would not be surprised if, for every time I was criticized, I added an additional minute to how long it would be before I felt my work was ready to show the world. It really feels possible that for every criticism I went more internal, that I came to feel it necessary to prepare a little longer before I show anyone what I’ve got. I needed to get it a little more right. I needed to like it a little more. I needed to shield myself from the criticism.
I believed that if I got everything right before I shared I was less likely to feel that gut punch. But after years and years of feeling it anyway, I delayed presentation longer and longer. I went from seconds, to minutes, to decades of preparation to avoid the sting.
I realized this morning during meditation that I am STILL dodging the words, “You’re doing it wrong,” and it’s twin, “You did it wrong.” These messages that I have heard since childhood—that I thought I overcame, mind you—are still finding new ways to delay my progress.
It’s possible that you can relate. It’s possible that you are a serial procrastinator and you don’t even know why. People delay progress for many reasons, but I want you to consider the possibility that it’s not because you’re lazy, and it’s not because you’re too busy, and it’s not because you’re afraid you’ll be too good at it to handle the success. What if the thing that you’re avoiding is criticism?
Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist
I feel like I’ll share more on this as it flows to me (possibly in my upcoming book, You’re Being Catfished). Just sharing my initial thoughts. Sending blessings and prayers, if you can relate, or if you are a teacher/parent who realizes you’ve been overly critical of your children. It’s not too late. Awareness is so key. It’s hard to continue doing something hurtful once you’re truly aware of the impact of what you’re doing. Just that awareness causes a decreased likelihood. Hugs to you and yours.