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The Fear of Doing Something Wrong

The thought of doing something wrong can cause us to have both fear and anxiety. We may wonder where this fear comes from? This fear stems from our childhood during our years of learning. Whether you were exposed to a traditional classroom setting or gained your skills in the home, doing something wrong meant that you were penalized. It may seem like a simple theory, but we were socialized into thinking that if we make mistakes, there were consequences. This concept is true, but what has it done to us as professionals?

If you were a student of the 80’s and the 90’s doing something wrong did not simply mean a demerit. It also meant that you received corporal punishment because you did not take the necessary steps to learn the material or practice moral actions that can benefit you now and into the future. We understand now that corporal punishment has serious implications into the psychological mind of the child; hence corporal punishment has been abolished. We now resort to other mechanisms of self-learning, but we are still exposed to the concept of attaining good grades or choose failure as on option.

Does it still exist? In some respects, the act of corporal punishment still exists against children and adults. We have been exposed to citizens being whipped with bamboos for breaking COVID-19 regulations in eastern countries. The belief that people should be beaten to understand the incorrection of their actions is still a recognized concept in some societies. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Children’s Act still allows parents to whip their children on certain sections of their bodies. It even details how many strokes should be delivered, thus providing a mechanism to differentiate between punishment and abuse.

Where are we now? Professionals today, would have been exposed to corporal punishment. Some may argue that corporal punishment provided them with the discipline they needed to be as successful as they are today. However, psychologists argue that no matter how much you may think that corporal punishment served you well, in the absence of this form of reprimand, you may have been in a better position than you are today. Just imagine a life without the fear of doing something wrong? Do you think in the absence of this fear, would we better professionals? Let us take a look at some concepts that plague us today.

Impostor Syndrome

This syndrome has been prevalent among the professionals in our network. The Impostor Syndrome describes a feeling of inadequacy despite having evidence of success. We have found that several professionals who produce quality work, often find themselves doubting their capabilities. There are always centred on getting it perfect, rather than getting the task completed. Once they have submitted the work for the client’s review, we are often plagued by messages of doubt.

In the exam room, have you experienced doubt? Have you ever heard the phrase ‘when in doubt, choose ‘c’”? This instance of doubt may have manifested into something bigger. If you ever had the opportunity to enter a rigorous tertiary level course, the lecturer would often tell you that in a multiple-choice paper, all the answers are correct. The lecturer would also tell you that he is searching for the most correct answer. They often have open book exams, where all the answers are in front of you, but the level of doubt to the answer still persists.


There is always a concern that we may be biting off more than we can chew. However, you would find that most people in your support network, may have much more faith in your capabilities than you have in yourself. Often, those who support and believe in you can craft a better sales pitch to sell your skills than you can ever imagine. Doing too much, handling several tasks and engaging with too many clients

makes us anxious to the point where we may just shut down. Anxiety is a natural response to stress and anyone can experience this. Anxiety, like with any other natural human response can be more intense than it is for some.

This traditional learning environment aims to prepare us to deal with anxiety, as it is a common occurrence in adulthood. We would have been given exams, random evaluations throughout the semester as well as the added stress of maintaining a proper grade point average (GPA). In the structure of the traditional learning environment, were we ever given the opportunity to learn about anxiety and the proper methods to deal with these occurrences? For most professionals today, achieving a degree or Masters qualification is mostly a blur with no real recollection of how it was attained.


When you are a specialist in your field, there are not many professionals you can compare your skill to. It is usually an exact science and requires some form of technical learning. There are usually a few methods to achieve the same goal, and as a specialist, you may have mastered a method for which you might be lauded. If you are a professional in a field that is oversaturated, there are several methods to achieve the same goal, and subjective opinion creates a foundation for meaningful comparison. When someone’s work is compared, it is not necessarily taken in good stride. Many professionals fear criticism and try to avoid it alltogether, even if it means defending work that does not compare to an industry standard.

The fear of being compared can also be attributed to the lifestyles that we lived during school. Competition was fostered both inside and outside the classroom. In our formative years of learning, we competed with our peers to attain 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. Often we would receive prizes for these placements. These prizes were meant to encourage others to achieve the same goal. Sports also used the same structure whereby students were praised for athletic excellence, and being excellent at a sport could be a determining factor to attend the school of your dreams. Our parents also played a huge role in fostering this behaviour of comparison. Most never missed an opportunity to proudly or subtly boast about their child’s accomplishments.

The Online Context

The feeling of viral content may not have been experienced by most Social Media users. They may have experienced this through a witty status update or a dynamic photo they shared with their network. They may have also experienced several likes, shares and overall engagement through a business profile. The dopamine dose received from such reactions is a very real neurological process. Once a user’s content goes viral for all the right reasons, it is very difficult to formulate similar content that will have the same level of engagement. Therefore, a lot of time is spent thinking about the next best content piece that can match or surpass the previous post.

When users do not receive likes, comments or shares on a particular post, more often than not, the post is removed. That instant fear of placing thoughts or ideas that may not have a popular opinion is retracted. It is a behaviour that has been socialized into our generation, and online media has not made the process easier. If we are not receiving the dopamine dose that we are searching for, why even allow the content to be visible. We require validation in our actions, very similar to validation required when we wrote papers, essays and submitted projects in hopes of receiving a good grade.


The solutions to manage anxiety in the context of doing something wrong is quite simple. We often need to afford ourselves frequent breaks and understand our workload. Discover a method by which

you manage your tasks in digestible chunks. A simple practice of creating a daily task list is a good place to start. Foremostly, we must also understand that increased anxiety is no fault of your own, but rather a natural response to surrounding stimuli. This is the most practical way to deal with anxiety and stress. If it is too much, you may want to step away from the task and resume at a later date when your anxiety has subsided.

If you have experienced the traditional classroom setting, anxiety would have been a real issue that you had to deal with. It was meant to train your body, mind and spirit to champion stressful situations. These are the type of professionals, consultants and entrepreneurs that society needs to progress. To champion these situations, one must be mindful to take care of oneself. Having balanced meals, regular rest and exercise are all great ways to manage anxiety. We must develop our healthy coping mechanism to champion our circumstances.

In conclusion, the fear that you have of doing something wrong is not a feeling that is reserved to you alone. It exists within all your peers. This fear may be more intense for some than it is for others. We all would have been exposed whether in the home or at school of the pressures associated with excelling. We may have found ourselves in situations where our skills did not match the task at hand, but yet still we were asked to complete it. Once we discover our methods of dealing with this, we can become anything we want to be. We should not allow fear to diminish our opportunities, but rather let that fear be our driver towards success.

Our Connective Pros team offers several business solutions in Public Relations, Marketing, Media and Communications. When we provide tools to you, we want you to understand the most effective methods on how to use them. We want you to receive the best mileage from every product or service that you purchase from us. If you are still unsure you can always contact us via and we will happy to provide you with additional details on all our services.

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