Right from our childhood we have been conditioned to avoid failure. Naturally, we have been associating failure with
- negative emotions such as sadness, anger, fear
- bad thoughts such as “am I good enough?”, “I am a failure”, “good for nothing”, “I will be rejected”
- feelings such as dejection, frustration, disappointment, despair etc
My Memories after losing a game are as such – we being shouted at, made to feel guilty about, reminded about our inadequacies and/or being denied of something.
I have played 16 years of First Class Cricket. Unfortunately, the main context always was to ‘avoid failure’. I guess with all the above negative associations, I simply resisted failing.
The following mental errors happen when you focus on avoiding failure:
One starts to force a result which in fact is an uncontrollable entity. The brain doesn’t trust the body to produce the actions, and tries to interfere with it.
This overrides our natural ability to express ourselves – which is the essence of peak performance. The more we force, the worse we perform. We become anxious, clumsy and make more mistakes. We turn our focus to our opponent instead of executing our own game plan. This leads to frustration and complete loss of control.
When we experience a series of setbacks on the field, as an alternate response to forcing is learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is backing away from the challenge and playing below one’s ability. This response is to demonstrate that nothing is going our way and so it’s best to just go through the motions. It is a way to avoid the disappointment of trying and failing.
The more we try to avoid failure the more we fail.
So, let’s look at how to Master the Fear of Failure!
Don’t fear failing, embrace it. Stay away from giving up and enjoy the challenges – in sports or otherwise!
I have not failed. I‘ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
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