Choosing to Fail, Brain Training

Written By: David Burns

choosing to fail

Do we choose to fail? Is success in sports or life a mindset? As a parent, a coach or an athlete what we believe; the thoughts that whirl around in our minds are what cr

eates our reality. It is this self generated “reality” that in turn causes us to behave in ways that validate this mindset resulting in the potential of a “self fulfilling prophecy”.

You don’t “see to believe”, you “believe” and then you “see”. We believe something to be true and than we unconsciously seek out validation for that belief. This is true whether it is a negative or positive belief, a constructive or destructive belief, a confidence building or self-esteem destroying belief.

If we believe red cars are fast, we will note anytime we see a fast moving car that is red but will ignore other cars that are moving fast that are not red. This phenomena is what allows us to maintain our biases; our judgments about ourselves, our team, our coaches or our club regardless of the facts. We see or hear what we want to see or hear to justify our actions in a game or to place blame for bad outcomes (e.g. the referee, the weather, time of day).

Our perception of our experiences sets up our expectations. If we have the same experience repetitively, we develop certain expectations about that given situation. Now the trick here is that this repetitive experience and the established expectations may have nothing to do with reality but rather may be a consequence of our own thoughts. That is to say, our beliefs, our thoughts about ourselves, of another player, a teammate, a coach, when repetitive, can create expectations not based on reality but rather our own “reality” we have constructed in our minds.

It is our nature to try and make sense of our “reality”. We want to be able to anticipate what will transpire. We feel more comfortable if we can make sense of things. It is these expectations, or our belief that we can predict what will transpire that gives us a false sense of control of our reality. When it comes to notions of control, Gary Pritchard, a certified mental coach, taught me something that I have found very useful. He said that there are only three things you can control as a player; effort, attitude and response (E.A.R). As a parent I try and focus on this acronym and will often look at my kids before they start to play and remind them of this truth with a little tug of my ear.

If a player’s mental constructs about themselves and those around them are positive and they understand that they are only in control of their effort, attitude and how they respond to a situation; I believe the associated constructive thoughts that would follow and the resulting behaviors and consequent positive perceptions will serve to build their confidence and performance in the game and in life.

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