Overcoming My Fear of Failure as I Live With Parkinson's Disease

“The greatest obstacle to success is the fear of failure.” ― Debasish Mridha

Recently, Sensei Michelle offered Rock Steady Boxing participants the opportunity to “break wood” with our hand.  Stan and Kelly volunteered and both were successful in crushing the wood. I wanted to try, but something was holding me back.

I thought long and hard about what was stopping me and I believe it was because I was afraid of failing. Why should I feel that way, since I was surrounded by kind, compassionate people who wouldn’t feel any different about me if I couldn’t break the wood? I reached out to Sensei Michelle asking her if she thought I could do it.  Her response: “How could you be fearful of something you have not tried yet? If you tried it and broke your hand then you will be fearful.” I then asked her if I could attempt to break the wood at the next class.

Sensei Michelle brought out the wood for me in class later that week and I succeeded in breaking it on the first try.  You would think I crushed a 200-pound boulder in half, I was so excited!

Most of my adult life I have had fear of failure, but I pushed myself to do things out of my comfort zone, like rappelling, cycling in the mountains of Spain, scuba diving and roller skating.  In the past, Steve (my soulmate lost to suicide in 2015) was always there to encourage and support me and I pushed through my fear of failure knowing he was always there for me. Now that Steve is no longer here, I must rely on myself and learn to lean on others for support when I need it.

What has “breaking wood” in Rock Steady class done for me? It is helping to re-build my self-confidence, something I lost when Steve passed away and was further eroded by my Parkinson’s diagnosis. My fellow boxers, the volunteers and Sensei Michelle are all there for me now and I am learning to rely on my own inner strength to help me overcome my fear of failure.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela

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