Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Don’t fear failure

December 04, 2018 / by / 0 Comment

Dr. Deb Wade

By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services

I think it’s safe to say that we live in a celebrity culture. Whether we’re talking about sports figures, musicians, politicians or television personalities, we easily can find ourselves reading about them, talking about them, dressing like them and being fascinated by all that surrounds their lives.

Oh, we know logically that they’re “just people like us,” but we’re often willing to let them be larger than life anyway. Sometimes these celebrity enchantments can be completely innocent; however, sometimes they can actually feed our most basic insecurities and self-esteem issues. So … let’s proceed with caution!

Take, for example, professional sports figures. They can impress us easily with their skill, swagger and strut, and we know they may be among the best at what they do. What we don’t easily acknowledge to ourselves, however, is that while success is a matter of consistent skill and effort, these sports figures are nowhere near PERFECTION.

A golfer will push a lot of shots wide of the fairway; the basketball player will shoot an airball; a baseball/softball athlete will foul a lot of balls into the stands; and the quarterback will have an occasional incomplete pass.

Additionally, there probably has never been a superstar athlete who didn’t also know how it felt to pace the sidelines or sit on the bench, frustrated with his/her own play. Ah … but the glamor of the sports and the extreme talent of the athlete can cure a lot of ills in our mind’s eye.

So when was the last time that you made a mental error at work, or you made an unwise decision, or you guessed wrong on a snap-judgment call, or you just “goofed?” Who hasn’t?

Yet we can let those things become fodder for self-condemnation, negative and critical self-talk, and self-chastisement. As these negative responses swirl in our brains, they can take on a larger-than-life power that eventually will affect our self-esteem, our self-confidence and our ability to rebound from our own messes.

Michael Jordan, arguably one of the greatest basketball players of all time, said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” 

If we elevate any sports figure’s sayings, let’s consider this one: If only we could cut ourselves some slack! NOBODY gets everything right all the time! What can we do?

  • Be fair with yourself today! Don’t let a little “popup” keep you from swinging for the fences next time!
  • Be kind to yourself today! If a .300 batting average (three hits out of 10 chances) can place a major league ballplayer in the Hall of Fame, perhaps you (and I) are Fame-worthy as well!
  • Be aware of what you say to yourself today! “Better shot next time” is so much more positive than “Here we go again; I can’t seem to do anything right.”
  • Be willing to “delete” negative images of yourself today! The best athlete sees him/herself as always on a road to excellence, NOT stuck in the mud of defeat!

The allure of famous personalities can be huge! However, we need to remember that everything they touch is not golden … there may be some rusty iron in there somewhere.

What good news for “all of the everyday people.” The rust can be knocked off, the “goofs” can be corrected, and we can keep waiting for the next opportunity to shine! Don’t collect and harbor the mistakes; rather, correct and dismiss them. Then take the next shot with confidence! Bull’s-eye!

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