Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

What happens when you fear making a mistake?




On the Wednesday morning of every Choices session, the core team meets for breakfast before the session begins. The conversation centres around what to expect in the next five days, with Mary Davis, the facilitator, sharing any information she needs us to know before the coaching team and trainees enter the room.

Last session, she shared a fear she has and asked if anyone else would be willing to share theirs.

“Sure,” I replied.

I had a big one. This was the first training session where I was 100% responsible for all the work that gets done at the back table in the room. And there’s lots. I’d been helping out over the past few months but had never gone it alone. RM was always there to teach me and to catch any mistakes. This time, I was alone.

“I’m terrified I won’t do the backtable work as perfectly as RM,” I shared with the group. And I laughed. “I know it’s irrational but while my conscious mind knows that I will do my best and everyone will have my back, somewhere within me is the belief, I can’t do it as perfectly as RM. I know the fear is unreal, but it feels real to me.”

Joe Davis, Mary’s husband and co-facilitator reassured me they’d have my back. And of course, now that they knew my fear he and a couple of the other coaches would make sure to tease me about it throughout the week.

And they did. Tease me. Lots.

And every time they did, I got to laugh at myself and feel my fear diminish as I saw the path to letting go of my fear was to focus my light on doing my best. My best is good enough and when I believe everyone around me wants me to do my best, my fear fades in the light of trust.

It can be easy for me to get caught in the trap of thinking ‘it’s up to me and only me to get it right’. And if I get something wrong, it’s easy for me to believe, I will be banished, shamed, voted off the island or any other calamity that might happen when I mess up and don’t do it perfectly — or at least right.

My fear isn’t about making mistakes. It’s about trusting others to support me and give me room to grow through my mistakes. It’s about trusting others to turn up in kindness, fairness, love.

In being given the gift of being teased whenever I did make a mis-step, I was given the gift of seeing my fears as what they are — thoughts in my mind that really aren’t based in reality. They’re just based in my critter mind’s need to keep me safe from trusting in others — because the critter believes people aren’t trustworthy. They’ll only let you down. He doesn’t believe they will turn up and be true.

When I give into the critter, I give up on people. And giving up on people, not believing in their worth, value, truth, creates a world of fear in and around me.

And that is not the more of what I want in my life.

Truth is, no one else was expecting me not to make mistakes. They were willing to give me the grace of not doing it perfectly. It was me who wasn’t.

In the end, any mistakes I did make were easily fixed. The training happened. Everyone got to Sunday evening with the paperwork, directions, and tools necessary to complete the training.

And I got to the end laughing at myself and feeling like I really did have a place on the island. I really did belong.





Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

25 thoughts on “What happens when you fear making a mistake?

  1. Taking a risk is usually a positive step. We’re hindered by our fears of failure. Nice post, Louise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nice piece – a friendly chuckle spread like peanut butter on hot toast …

    so, I enjoyed it

    deeper within it I see a question about vulnerability self worth and expectations

    is perfection possible, or even desirable?

    is imperfection possible, or even desirable?

    someone, somewhere along your path, convinced you that perfection was evidence of something worthy – and that failure to achieve it was some kind of bad thing. I think you’ve been tortured by that long enough – so, please my friend, let yourself out of jail!

    imperfection doesn’t mean lazy or half-hearted or insincere – it means normal, healthy, real

    p.s. you owe me some material .. please .. soon: it need not be perfect, but it should move from you to me …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your literal interpretation of what I write that surprises me Mark! 🙂

      I believe that those deep, limiting beliefs that trip me up always are present — the gift is, as I become more aware of them, they have less capacity to trip me up for long, and sometimes, they don’t even trigger!

      Thanks for your insights — and yes, I know! I am working on it. 🙂


  3. “My fear isn’t about making mistakes. It’s about trusting others to support me and give me room to grow through my mistakes. It’s about trusting others to turn up in kindness, fairness, love.” Absolutely love this line. So insightful. I see I have a similar fear. Fear of being misunderstood due to not conveying my message well, and then judged by others by that misunderstanding. So not trusting other to seek to understand before judging. Thanks for help in coming to that understanding L!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lynn

      everybody wants to be liked … but we aren’t always by everyone – and sometimes never

      the key, my opinion, is for YOU TO UNDERSTAND YOUR MESSAGE … and if you do, whether or not someone else does won’t matter so much. If you don’t understand it, then admitting that is even more compelling. Write for you. Write for yourself. Maybe fans will line up, maybe they won’t .. but what you say/write/do will be clear to you for you. What else matters?




      • I believe Mark that our fears have little to do with understanding our message as much as they do with our innate fear of what others will think/do/judge — the fear is irrational but it exists so acknowledging the fear is even more powerful because it allows us to be open and trusting of those who do turn up.


    • I love how you see the truth with you Lynn and then embrace it with such grace. That is loving kindness in action!


  4. It is so easy to be too afraid to do anything new. Overcoming that is usually the first, and hardest step.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really understand this and, as always, you’ve got me thinking! I am always afraid of making a fool of myself, especially on my blog and sometimes catch myself getting up at 3am to reread what I wrote just in case I wrote something idiotic – ha! This self-consciousness is such an enemy to my fragile self-confidence. I wish I could be more brash, out there, unapologetic. You are such an inspiration, Louise!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Louise! I’m proud of you! So many times we fear things…for no good reason 😉 Hope all is bright and shiny in your world!! ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Life is full of mistakes, things we wish we had done differently, things we wish we could undo but from these things we learn and we grow

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very insightful, Louise. Just what I needed to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this Louise. I love that it moves into Brene Brown’s world of “the gift of impaction”. As soon as we accept we are imperfect, just like everyone else, we can embrace many things. Courage. Asking for help. Failure. Laughing at ourselves. Exploration. Acceptance. New experiences.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I gave up being afraid of making mistakes a long time ago, they really are just really good learning opportunities (most of the time), but you are right about that fear of others not supporting you, not being there for you, which naturally feeds into the not trusting others and feeling like we are adrift. How nice it is to banish those thoughts and find secure footing on the island!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this distinction, and will try to keep it in mind: “My fear isn’t about making mistakes. It’s about trusting others to support me and give me room to grow through my mistakes. It’s about trusting others to turn up in kindness, fairness, love.”


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