Go to the top

Mastering the Fear of Failure

admin / Sport /

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 ” and 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 with, unfortunately the main Context being to ‘Avoid Failure’. I guess with all the above negative associations of Emotions, Thought, Feelings and Memories with Failure how else can one play a game ?! I simply resisted Failing.

If we play any game with the focus on Avoiding Failure, the following mental errors happen:

1. Forcing

When the Focus is too much on avoiding Failure(negative Emotions, Feelings, Thoughts and Memories), one starts to force a result or try to control the result which is in fact an uncontrollable entity. Basically, 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 more anxious and clumsy and make more mistakes.

We turn our focus on our opponent instead of executing our own game plan. This leads to frustration and go totally out of control.

2. Helplessness

When we experience a series of setbacks during play another alternate to over-trying or forcing is Learned helplessness. It is a giving up response. This is backing away from the challenge and under-trying or playing below one’s ability as if to demonstrate that nothing is going our way and so it’s best to just go through the motions.

This 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!

1. Be at Home with Failure

I didn’t manage to avoid failure no matter how hard I tried. I have failed hundreds of times and so have all the MASTERS of any game. If even the Legends of every Sport couldn’t avoid failure, isn’t it wise to accept failure as a part of the equation of playing any game?

Michael Jordon famously said: “I have failed over and over and over again. And that is why I succeeded. I can ‘Accept Failure’ but not, ‘giving up’ or ‘not putting effort”.

2. Strive for Success, to Enjoy the Challenge or to Never Give Up.

To find the answer to Mastering the Fear of Failure, let’s look at those few successes that I did manage to achieve. It was in fact because somewhere before or during the game I turned my context from avoiding failure to striving for success, or simply to enjoy the game & the challenge.

Perhaps, my definition of success itself changed and maybe I knew at the back of my mind that I would succeed. This context allowed me to play the game with freedom and express myself and most importantly have fun.

3. Get out of your Head. & TRUST yourself

Our brain traps us inside our head with all the calculations, analysis, things to look out for, strategies to execute and to survive & not getting beaten in the game. It reminds us of our previous bad experiences so that we avoid them.

By learning to Trust our ability to handle the situation, we could move our focus from being caught up inside our head to being out ‘HERE and NOW’ with the game as it happens.

When we learn to quiet our Minds and Be in the Here and Now, it will enable us to pick up the necessary cues and play the game more effectively, fearlessly and with Gay Abandon!!