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Have you ever thought of what fear means to you? What does it stand for? What role does it play in your life as an athlete? Does it stand in your way of doing your absolute best? Does it hold you back when you know you can do more? Does it feel like a dark tunnel that you can’t seem to get out of? Does it characterize dark colours and sadness?

Let’s look at how athletes and other individuals think of fear.

Fear plays such a huge role in the life of an athlete. To be honest, it is a part of everyone’s life. I often hear people say that it stands in their way or that it makes them feel like they are unable to accomplish their goals.

I hear athletes say that it makes them feel like they don’t know how to move past their fears. It sometimes follows with body language that suggests the feeling of low self-worth and defeated confidence. Sometimes a lack of motivation to keep on pushing through seems to take over and decrease their level of focus.

If there is one important thing to learn about having a strong mind, it is that no one MAKES you feel anything. No one decides how you feel. You make yourself feel what you want to based on what is going on around you or how a situation plays out. Don’t worry, it’s not only you, I do it too, and so do your parents, friends or even coaches. It is a natural defense to blame our negative perceptions on other things or even people. Very often, it is the first defense that comes to mind when we start having feelings of self-defeat or doubt. It is a way for us to cover up the negative outlooks we are having so that we don’t have to deal with it ourselves. Dealing with things alone is scary so we tend to lean away from it.

I am telling you now, you can blame other people or circumstances all you want, but your fears are never going to get solved that way. The only way to solve them is to confront them. You must have heard that before. But did you really take the time to understand what it means and how it applies in your life? It’s no longer just a little saying that people talk about for fun, it is now a reality.

It is so easy to give up and say “I am just too afraid” and that’s the end of it. It is so hard to figure out a way to push past the fear and give it a try. The big question is how? How will you do it? I hear it all the time while coaching. “I want to do it but I don’t know how because it is just too scary”.

It takes a certain type of athlete to be able to go for it and say “I am going to be brave and try it.” All of my athletes know that they have not done their job if they have not tried whatever it is that is so scary for them at least once. My rule is that after they try it, they are allowed to decide if it is something worth continuing to put their effort towards or not. I always promise them that if they do not want to continue after trying once then I will not make them. Even though I give this option to all of my athletes, no matter the age or level, I have never had someone finally build up the courage to go for it and then say “it is too hard I don’t want to do anymore”. I can honestly say in all my years of coaching it has never happened once. I usually notice a feeling of relief or complete happiness in my athletes because they accomplished something they thought they couldn’t. It is so rewarding as a coach to watch your athlete who was struggling finally find their way past the road block and start to move on to more challenging things.

As an athlete you have a choice to be great until something stands in your way and then give up, or you can be great and not let anything stand in the way of your goals. Your end game should mean more to you than the fear that is floating around your brain like an annoying mosquito! What do we do when a mosquito is flying around our head? We shoo it away! Sometimes it comes back but we shoo it away again. Just like your fears.

I wanted to find a way that you could look at fear in a different and more exciting way. A way in which we could change the thought process about it and become more powerful than it.

As you know, when we think of fear it is negative and scary and something that we don’t want around us. Why not make it something worth remembering so that the first thing you think about when you experience it while training is a positive?

What does it stand for? You get to decide.

Fill in the blanks with positive words that mean something to you or that you will be able to think of every time FEAR creeps into your mind. It can be anything positive. Maybe a word that you think is powerful or inspiring would be a good choice. Perhaps a word that is happy or exciting for you would be a great option as well. The best part is that you get to decide, which shows that you are in control.

Let’s try!

Fill in the blanks.

F _______________________________________________

E _______________________________________________

A _______________________________________________

R _______________________________________________

My Example:

Fabulous
Energetic
Amazing
Resilient

It is not going to click right away. It takes time to train your mind that that is what fear really means to you. You are creating an alternative reality and therefore it needs to settle in. It is kind of like learning a new skill or accomplishing a new goal. You don’t get it on the first try and it takes time for your body and mind to be ready to do it at all. It also takes repetition after repetition to be able to do it properly or in good quality. Your job is to repeat to yourself what the word FEAR stands for to you every day. You have to reiterate it many times when fear is standing in your way, and keep repeating it until you are convinced that if fear means those positive words, then it is not that scary to at least try it. Tell others about it. The more you talk about it, the more you will believe it.

Remember that because you decided how you wanted to feel about your fears, you are the only person who can defeat them. You are the only one who can stand in the way and say I am better than my fear and take a risk that seems so out of reach.

Once you build up the courage to take that step, you will be a stronger athlete.

You will know more about your limits and maybe the next time fear bounces into your life, you will have a more positive experience with it. You may be able to come up with solutions faster or even help out someone else with their fears.

In order for this to work you need to be committed to changing it. You need to be strong and courageous when your fears come by and let yourself be bigger than fear by changing how you feel about it when it shows up in your life. It doesn’t have to be something scary, it doesn’t even have to be a big deal. You get to decide what it means and how it feels which makes everything so much easier. You are in control.

One of the most powerful things about this is that no two people’s definitions of what fear stands for will be the same. Your friend’s or teamate’s perception of what fear stands for will be completely different than yours. That’s what makes it so unique.

SO, what does FEAR stand for to you?

YOU DECIDE, YOU WIN!

“You are your own most powerful motivator and critic. Which will you be?”

-Coach Brittany-

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