Letting go of the fear of making mistakes

A mindful activity for those of you who find it hard to overcome the fear of making a mistake

We all know that deep-rooted memories of an unpleasant learning experience in the past or even just a general “fear of failure” can often hold us back from making progress in the present.

When you next feel your stress levels rise because of this, why not pause, breathe and try this little experiment:

  • Feel the emotions that your fear brings up (e.g. regret, shame, embarrassment, sadness, anger, frustration…) and observe them. Where are they in your body for example? Are they still or moving? What colour are they? When noticing these emotions, try to avoid saying “I’m angry” but say instead “I’m noticing that I’m feeling anger”. You are not your emotions.
  • Accept these emotions. When I say”accept”, what I mean is not to feel any resistance about these emotions being here. You can even feel grateful or appreciative for them because they’re telling us, moment to moment, how we’re thinking. (Emotional agility is the ability to be with your emotions with curiosity and compassion).
  • Now visualize yourself standing outside in a place where you feel safe: it could be on the beach, in your garden, on your favourite mountain walk etc.
  • In your right hand, you hold a number of balloons, each one representing the emotions you named (maybe you only have one balloon, maybe you have many).
  • Associate a colour with each one: for example, red for anger, pink for shame, blue for sadness etc.
  • Then imagine yourself passing one balloon from your right hand to your left hand and imagine yourself letting go of that balloon and literally feeling that emotion leave your body, flying away with the balloon high up into the clear blue sky.
  • Let a feeling of calm and serenity envelop you like a warm blanket.
  • Do the same thing with each balloon you have until all the listed emotions have left your body.

As I mentioned this is a helpful technique for letting go.

But there is an even simpler way that I would like to gently point you in the direction of:

An Inside-Out Understanding

Whenever you’re feeling stressed, anxious, angry etc., know that you’re simply “feeling your thinking”. You’re experiencing your thought at that time about an external event, situation or person. But it’s only a thought. It’s not real. You’re the one who is making it up in your head!

In fact, if we take away that thought and become quiet and still, present in the moment, we realize that we’re actually perfectly ok, happy even.

It’s then that we get back in touch with our own innate wellbeing: the feeling of peace, happiness and ease that we felt as a child before layers of repetitive thought and stories about ourselves concealed it.

Wellbeing and stress come from inside, not out. Wellbeing is your natural state, your default mode. Stress is created by you, by your thoughts.

When you really understand that, I mean, feel it in your bones, then life and learning in general become much less complicated as you no longer believe your thoughts. You can observe them and move on, not taking everything so personally or so seriously.

Experiment with the above over the next few days and let me know how it resonates with you.


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