My Fear of Failure Blocked Me From Both Risks and Rewards

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

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optimism, meditation, fear, emotions, judgment, reflecting, cog fog, positivity

Bravado is lost in the blink of an eye. Self-doubt erodes certitude until we find that our default modus operandi is to refuse. Opportunities, happiness, possibilities, and growth seem to pass. This no-risk mentality brings no reward.

Chronic illness is a breeding ground for skepticism. We live in a world where the most basic needs go unmet. Pain persists despite medication, diseases progress despite therapy, and disappointments mount despite our best efforts. Our natural inference would be to settle for less.

It is wrong.

Multiple sclerosis is a diagnosis, not an identity. Pain, fatigue, and disease progression can make them difficult to distinguish. I have blurred these lines. It has never been for the better. State this aloud with intention. Declare it to the universe or to another. Write it in a journal and refer to it when you need reminding.

MS-borne challenges are real. Yet, trials are powerless to negate value or diminish self-worth. Only we can do ourselves that disservice. We buy into a flawed narrative. Only when we hush that voice can we tap into our full potential. Quieting fear amplifies ability. My confidence has been affected by dysphagia and dysarthria. I tend to stammer when I am nervous. These issues have nothing to do with who I am or what I am capable of doing.

I have been a victim of my skepticism and doubt. I have feared away success and happiness. I have settled for the mediocrity I know rather than the excellence I dream. I have watched opportunities pass by while I wonder, “Why me?”

Why not me? Why not you?

I spent so long grieving lost aspirations that I neglected to make room for new goals. Fear of failure derailed my ability to believe in myself. Fear had to do with my disease. What if the pain and disability got in the way of completing a task? I was afraid of failure. Much of my anxiety was self-inflicted. MS was not stopping me. I was the definitive roadblock. A roadblock only I could remove.

Cognitive retooling helped to inspire belief in myself. I began by listening to the negative messages inside my mind. As soon as one appeared, I would counter it with a more conducive mantra. I would carry this mantra as my CPR for the day. In essence, it was lifesaving.

It was nourishment for my soul. It opened up my portal to risk and dream. MS will always toss hurdles in my path, but I get to decide when to jump.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Christine Gendron avatar

Christine Gendron

Dear Jennifer,
This is spot on!! Thanks so much.

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell


Thank you so much, I appreciate your input after reading!



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