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  • Writer's pictureJeff Butorac

Where does your fear of failure come from?

Fear of failure is a common feeling that many athletes and performers go through. They don’t want to screw up or make a mistake for fear of letting down family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans, or themselves. It is a feeling that can keep you from reaching your greatest self and one of the strongest tools your Inner Rival will you to keep you from achieving your goal.

The first step in combating it, is to try and understand fear. Your fear is built into your DNA from the early days of our ancestors. They had to develop the fear of threats in order to survive the dangers of their time. One of those fears was that of being rejected from the group because if they were, their chance of survival would drop drastically. Fast forward to today, we still have those same fears of danger in our DNA, but not the same level of dangers in our everyday life. Therefore, you’re not strange if you have a fear of speaking in front of others or fear of letting others down. That is completely normal.

Now that you know that this fear is normal, you want to figure out where your fear of failure is coming from. What is holding you back from reaching your full potential? Often times it is a fear of letting someone down or wanting their acceptance, such as your coach, teammates, family members, fans, or even yourself. Yes, you can have a fear of letting yourself down. This usually comes from that fear of wanting to be part of the tribe.

Another fear that many people have is the fear of getting out of their comfort zone. This is because whatever it is, is not in their comfort zone, and therefore it is in the unknown and scary. They don’t know what to expect, physically, mentally, or emotionally. What happens if they get out of their comfort zone and don’t like it, or things go wrong? Again, this is a normal fear to have, but it is still a fear that is holding you back from reaching your potential.

So, the question then becomes how do we start to eliminate those fears? One thing you need to realize is that often these fears come from you focusing too much on the outcomes and consequences. This is called the “What if’s”. What if fill in the blank happens? What if I don’t win, what if I miss this shot? You are worrying about what will happen in the future, which is something that you can’t control. Do your best to focus on the moment at hand and what which you can control.

One way to work on getting past the fear of letting others down is to write out what is the worst thing that can happen if you don’t win, or if you miss the shot and learn to be ok with it. Most likely you realize that it’s not as bad as you are projecting in your mind. By writing it down you can see what those worst-case scenarios are and begin to work past them in your mind. Then you can start to see the positive outcomes that are possible.

I understand that it is not easy to do these things in the moment, so it is best to practice these types of mindsets when everything is going well or before you find yourself in competition. Just like any other skill, it takes practice. It will be difficult to pull off if you only practice it during tense moments. Find time when your alone to work on strengthening your mindset for when you truly need it to get past your fears.

Good luck silencing your Inner Rival

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