(Extract from the Sport Mind Mastery Workshop Manual)
More than anything else, it is a fear of failure that keeps athletes from achieving their full potential.
Ask yourself: What kind of competitor are you? Do you like to play it safe or are you willing to take a chance, risking on possibly failing in order to win?
Fear can be described as and an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.
Being afraid to fail actually only makes it worse. It can cause you to start playing it safe instead of taking on the challenge and this restricts you physically and mentally. Negative thoughts can further cause tight muscles, loss of focus and create even more stress.
Remember: Fear of failure is caused by not knowing how to fail constructively. The only way to accomplish anything great is to risk failing at it first. If you have a fear of failing, it’s more than just a bad thing. It can actually cripple your chances of success. -Gonzalez
In reality, fear of failure is nothing more than a perceived threat of looking bad and this internal state ends up holding you back, without you even being aware of it. When you can start to realise that success presupposes failure and you look at failure from a different perspective, so much can change in your performance. By embracing the occasional failure, you can experience the exhilaration of achieving greatly. That’s right to accomplish anything of value is to risk failing at it first and to accept some failure is inevitable.
Where is the fear? Fear is something that happens inside your head, causing your body to react and when you learn to control your thoughts your body can respond in a more appropriate way. Reacting is emotional and out of control whereas responding is with purpose and powerful control. Always ask yourself in pressure moment if you are merely reacting or if you are responding.
History shows us over and over again that those that are legend got there by failing; politicians lost elections, generals lost battles, millionaires failed in business ventures and behind every Olympic gold medal is many second and third place finishes. With this in mind it is important to know that no matter what the circumstance you can learn something and make the changes that will help you achieve what you set out to accomplish.
That is the way of a champion.
When your internal voice is ready to make you aware of the failing event, you have a choice to shut these limiting thoughts down and open your mind to a different perspective. Failure is only an event, not a person. When you fail at something it is more about what happened than who you are and when that sinks in, you can embrace failure with success as outcome.
Consider this: There is no such thing as failure, there is only feedback. That’s right when you look at failure with a new perspective you will find that there is so much more in it for you
What can you do to be more in control?
Know the difference between reacting and responding. Fear is something that happens inside your head, causing your body to react and when you learn to control your thoughts your body can respond in a more appropriate way. Reacting is emotional and out of control whereas responding is with purpose and powerful control.
Responding is managing fear. Fear is part of any competition and fear has the potential to escalate out of control when not managed. The origin of fear is either in the past or future and although this can in some instances inspire, the trick is to bring yourself back into the present moment to focus the power of the emotion.
You may wonder how you can bring yourself back into the present moment. This can be done by focusing on bringing your breathing under control. Breathing is very helpful in refocusing and also to biologically becoming more in control of your body.
What happens when the negative thoughts prevail? The first step is to be aware of these negative thoughts and then to interrupt them immediately. Replace the negative thoughts with positive self-talk and images refocusing on what you can control. (See article on self-talk)
What you feel is only excitement! It is important to understand that fear is only energy that acts as an important signal that warns you to get ready. This energy is felt somewhere in your body and often this would be the same place as excitement, confidence or motivation. It is therefore also important to not confuse limiting fear to activation and readiness to compete.
Champions learn from failure and embrace it. When this happens you have an important advantage and mental edge.
Article compiled by Bennie Louw the Sport Mind Coach
Training Your Mind for Sports Performance – Providing training for coaches, managers, parents, high level performers and keen amateurs who wish to learn the techniques to improve their mental approach to sport.
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