Failure-fear and frustration: Get out of the Angelina Jolie trap


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What helps against the fear of mistakes: you have to breathe deeply and make it clear that it is not so bad if you make a mistake. The 80% are often well enough. But it sounds easier than it really is: How does it work in reality?

Failure-fear and frustration: Get out of the Angelina Jolie trap


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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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What specifically helps

So be aware that the consequences may not be as bad as you thought. That you might not lose your job right away. Or that the supervisor might be angry for a while, but not resentful.

Collect evidence! Write down what scares me. And write down how big the probability is that this fear really occurs. Others ask what they mean. Just write it in three columns next to each other. Or perhaps in the head. But make it clear in the head that the fears that one has perhaps superfluous.

Nobody can be the best anywhere

Because the problem with the performance requirements is: No one can always and everywhere be the best. You can not do it physically. So you'll be overwhelmed if you try anyway. This possibility occurs with Amy Chua, but decidedly too short.

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What then happened is: Negative distress arises. In contrast to Eustress, we experience no flow in such situations, but feel helpless and abandoned. Swiss researchers have found that this distress even cloud our memory.

Hormones and burnout

Cortisol is released from the adrenal cortex, which is supposed to protect the body from overexertion. It blocks, among other things, the memory performance, leads to a high blood glucose level and hyperacidity of the blood and to a weakening of the thyroid function.

Therefore, clear thinking becomes more difficult in particularly stressful situations. Anyone who is permanently overwhelmed, inevitably steers the burnout.

Failure leads to frustration

And there is another problem. If, despite all my efforts, I do not achieve the desired goal, it naturally leads to frustration. The optimal solution is then to get back up and continue. But when I'm stuck in this hamster wheel, that's how difficult it is to be completely logical.

For example, if you've often experienced things going wrong, you might not succeed so easily. Because you are scared. Sometimes you also see things as much more negative than they really are, simply because you have experienced it so often negatively. Because the negative thought patterns have solidified from experience. Or simply because you have been dealing with a problem for too long.

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The longer we brood, the worse it gets

The longer and more detailed we ponder on a problem, the more difficult it seems in the end is a solution to the problem.

For example, because we and the consequences are far worse than they are - we are catastrophic. This is also proven by scientific studies.

This is how the brain works

Psychologists Neil Roese and Jeff Kuban at the University of Illinois have conducted interesting experimental studies with 200 students. They had their subjects calculate math problems and measured brain activity.

In a first round, they gave them the realistic timings of 15 minutes per task. In a second round they let 30 minutes for each task, which again had the same level of difficulty, with the requirement to make full use of the time to eliminate any calculation errors in detail.

More time does not mean better results

The result: the additional time did not significantly improve the computation results compared to the first run. However, the researchers had observed that the brains of the students were all the more high-speed, the longer they were concerned with a task.

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In addition, almost all students stated afterwards that they found the tasks in the second round more difficult. Roese and Kuban concluded that people perceive tasks as fundamentally more difficult the longer they deal with them. Say: less is more!


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  1. Tanja Handl

    Making mistakes is always bad ... especially when you're new and have not been able to prove that you're actually much better. But as the saying goes? To err is human.

    A really good article to learn how to deal with frustration! I like it :)

  2. Simone Janson

    Series - How do we get out of the Angelina-Jolie trap? My lecture script - part 3 ...

  3. Competencepartner

    Series - How do we get out of the Angelina Jolie Trap? My Lecture Script - Part 3: Failure ... Commented on Twitter

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