How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

As athletes, we’re presented with countless opportunities to fail—and that’s a good thing. Learning to process, cope, and accept failure is important for everyone — but it’s essential for athletes, as we’re constantly presented with opportunities (from races to workouts) to fail. Ideally, athletes will come to accept that failure is a valuable part of life and sport, but many fear failure instead.

The first step is to identify and recognise the signs of fear, so here are a few common signs of fear of failure.
Once you’ve figured out the cause of your fear of failure, you can use past setbacks to find ways to propel yourself forward instead of holding yourself back. These past experiences can be valuable tools when untangling and learning from a perceived failure.
For example, sometimes it feels easier to get in our own way than to face the fact that failure is a real possibility. Have you ever found yourself “failing” before you’ve truly failed? Maybe you trained too hard, or you let logistics get the best of you, or sabotaged your nutrition, knowing you wouldn’t be at your best on race day. Honestly addressing the factors that contributed to a failure can help you learn from them and use them positively.

5 Ways To Overcome Fear of Failure

1. Identify fears
You first need to become aware of exactly what it is that you fear, then identify the root cause of them. Facing up and admitting our fears is the first step of overcoming any fears that holds us back

2. Rationalise fear
Ask yourself “what is the worst thing that can happen?” This will help us to rationalise our fears and helps us to realise that fear is often not as bad as we think it is in our mind.

3. Change your perspective
Failure is often just a matter of perspective and it’s our decision of how we choose to view things. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture of how this so called failure can help you in future. Remember that failure is an opportunity to learn and get feedback that what you’re doing isn’t working so something needs to change.

4. Take action
Don’t sit on things for too long and procrastinate, do what you say you’re going to do. Inaction breeds fear while action breeds confidence and courage. Don’t just think about things, go and do it. Remember your daily habits will dictate your results so get used to taking action on a regular basis. Like a cart, it’s easier to keep going when there’s momentum.

5. Expand your comfort zone
Do just one small thing that scares you a bit and gradually start to expand your comfort zone. When things seem overwhelming then break it down to small and simple goals that are easily achievable.

Facing failure is hard. It’s a challenge athletes and non-athletes both struggle with on a daily basis. The pressure to perform can be a motivating tool, but if not cultivated properly, it can easily turn into a debilitating fear of failure. Use your own experiences to become mentally stronger and set up opportunities for success. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who believe in you and your direction. Very few things in life are guaranteed, so accepting the possibility of failure can remove some of the pressure we put on ourselves and allow us to focus on productive routes forward.

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