Conscious Flow

Case Study: Overcoming Fear of Failure as a 36-Year-Old Wife and Mother


Emily is a 36-year-old wife and mother of two children, a girl aged 8 and a boy aged 5. She works as a Chartered Accountant (CA) in a reputable firm, where she has been employed for the past 12 years. Despite her successful career, Emily has been struggling with a persistent fear of failure that has begun to impact various aspects of her life.


Emily’s fear of failure manifests in several ways. At work, she finds herself hesitating to take on new challenges or pursue opportunities for advancement. She worries that she won’t meet expectations or make mistakes that could jeopardize her career. This fear has led to feelings of stagnation and self-doubt, despite her competence and qualifications as a CA.

At home, Emily’s fear of failure spills over into her role as a mother and wife. She constantly worries about not being a good enough parent or partner, fearing that she will let her family down. This fear often prevents her from fully engaging with her children or enjoying quality time with her spouse, as she is preoccupied with thoughts of inadequacy.


Emily’s fear of failure has created a cycle of anxiety and avoidance, leaving her feeling trapped and overwhelmed. She struggles to balance the demands of her career with her responsibilities at home, feeling as though she is constantly falling short in both areas. This constant fear and self-criticism have taken a toll on her mental and emotional well-being, impacting her confidence and self-esteem.

Emily’s fear of failure has also affected her relationships with her colleagues, family, and friends. She finds herself withdrawing from social interactions and avoiding opportunities for connection, fearing judgment or rejection. This isolation only exacerbates her feelings of loneliness and inadequacy, further perpetuating the cycle of fear and avoidance.


Recognizing the need for support, Emily decides to seek help from a family constellations therapist, Sonja. Through coaching, she begins to explore the underlying causes of her fear of failure and its impact on her life. Together with her systemic coach, Sonja, Emily identifies several key factors contributing to her struggles:

Parental Expectations: Emily recalls feeling pressure from her parents to excel academically and professionally from a young age. While her parents’ intentions were well-meaning, their high expectations instilled in her a deep fear of disappointing others and failing to meet standards

Workplace Culture: Emily realizes that the competitive and perfectionistic culture of her workplace has reinforced her fear of failure. She often compares herself to her colleagues and fears falling behind or being judged for any perceived shortcomings.

Perfectionism: Emily comes to understand that her fear of failure is closely tied to her perfectionistic tendencies. She realizes that she has been holding herself to unrealistic standards, which only serve to heighten her anxiety and self-doubt.

Armed with this newfound awareness, Emily begins to implement strategies to overcome her fear of failure:

Setting Realistic Goals

Emily learns to set achievable goals for herself, both at work and at home. By breaking tasks down into smaller, manageable steps, she is able to approach challenges with greater confidence and clarity.

Practicing Self-Compassion: Emily cultivates a sense of self-compassion, learning to be kinder and more forgiving towards herself. She acknowledges that everyone makes mistakes and that failure is a natural part of the learning process.

Seeking Support: Emily reaches out to her family, friends, and colleagues for support and encouragement. She realizes that she doesn’t have to face her fears alone and that vulnerability can be a source of strength.

Over time, Emily’s fear of failure begins to diminish as she embraces a growth mindset and learns to view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. With the support of her therapist and loved ones, Emily is able to break free from the grip of fear and step into a brighter, more confident future.