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Often our fears about failure are much worse than the reality. It may come as a surprise to hear that failure can be a great motivator for change. Failing offers us great opportunities to learn more thoroughly. You might not have realised how much you have learnt from a previous one.


Activity: Reflect on previous triumphs over adversity

Take five minutes on your own (or with a good friend) to see if you can write down the skills, personal qualities and mental attitudes that you have had to develop in yourself when overcoming previous failures or challenges. This will give you an idea of how you’ve overcome adversity in the past.

Writing these qualities down will act as a reminder of how much you have developed up to this point. Try keeping the list on you – a photo on your phone or a note in your wallet/purse for example. Each subsequent time you face potential fear of failing, look at your list. Take comfort in what you have achieved in the past, and that you can do it again.

Isn’t this just psychobabble?

Absolutely not! We are all susceptible of falling into negative thought patterns. It will completely undermine your confidence and indeed your academic performance.


Changing negative thought patterns around fears of failing

You can never fully stop negative thoughts from appearing in your head – but you can reduce the impact that they have over you.

Try saying ‘No’ or ‘STOP’ when you notice yourself in a negative thinking pattern. You will get better with practise. This will encourage you and prevent recurring negative thoughts.

If your confidence wavers, read the list you created earlier (again). Positive affirmation should not be neglected at the expense of entertaining the negatives!

Repeat this process every time you catch yourself thinking about failing. You will soon feel more confident, assured and less willing to entertain your inner doubts.

Good luck!


The University Counselling Service can be access via their website.

Remember exams are stressful and it’s perfectly normal to feel this stress. There are numerous events across campus to help you cope with the burden.

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