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Don’t Let

Hold You Back! by Sandy J. Steifer


ook,” Keaton said to Molly. “See how Sam looks afraid to pitch the ball? I think he has a bad case of acarophobia.” Molly’s eyes widened as she looked from the ballgame to Keaton. “That sounds horrible!” “Oh, wait. Not acarophobia. That’s fear of itching. He’s not scratching. He has antlophobia.” “Poor Sam! I didn’t know he was so sick,” Molly cried. “Wait! That’s not right, either,” Keaton said. “Antlophobia is a fear of—” “Ants?” Molly asked. “No, a fear of floods. But it’s not even raining. What Sam really has is atychiphobia (ah-tich-ihFOE-bee-uh),” Keaton said with a nod of his head. “Well, what is it?” Molly asked.

If you think you can succeed, you have a good chance of doing just that. How to Overcome the Fear

“See how Sam takes so long to pitch? He’s afraid he’ll make a mistake and Jon will get the game-winning home run off of him. He doesn’t want anyone to think he’s not a good pitcher. He told me he’s thinking of quitting baseball because losing bothers him so much. “He has atychiphobia all right. That’s the fear of failure.”

Fear Is an Emotion Most people experience some fear of failure. They may be afraid to make mistakes or to fail at what they try. But this is part of the learning process. No one is born with all the skills and knowledge to accomplish everything on the first try. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Fear is an emotion, and it

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isn’t all bad. It protects us from real danger. For example, it’s good to fear coming across a lion out on the plains of Africa because you could end up being its dinner! Why do people fear failure? Expectation is a big reason. Expectations can make students do things they shouldn’t. For instance, many kids feel a lot of pressure about their grades. Fear of failure to get good grades may make students cheat on tests when they know they shouldn’t. A study of cheating at universities around the world was done at Sydney University of Technology in Australia. The main reason for cheating was fear of failure to meet the expectations of parents and other people important to the student.

What can you do about your fear of failure? Les Brown is a former member of the Ohio legislature. He is also a world renowned speaker, the CEO of a company, a radio and television celebrity, and the best-selling author of Live Your Dreams. When Mr. Brown was in school, he was put in a special education class. He began to believe the label he was given—a slow learner. He stopped trying because he did not want to fail and prove he was slow. But Les Brown overcame his fear of failure. He says you must believe in yourself. The first thing to do in overcoming the fear of failure is to become more aware of your thoughts and attitude. If you go into a gymnastics meet or tennis match with the feeling that you can win, you just might do so. And if you go into those games

thinking that you’ll lose because everyone else is better than you, you probably won’t do well. This is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. Professional athletes know all about how attitude can make or break your game. But it goes way beyond sports and into every aspect of your life. Some Copyright © by Weekly Reader Corporation • Current Health 1

positive thinking can help you gain confidence and fight the fear of failure. Try these out: • Listen. Are you saying negative things to yourself? If you say them enough times, you’ll believe them. Keep track of how often you put yourself down. • Feel. Are you worried and jittery about that math test or the basketball game? Write down what you are worried about so you can “look” at your worry. Worried thoughts are negative thoughts. • Talk. Retrain your brain so that you have good things to say about yourself. Listen for those negative thoughts and stop them. Then follow up with a positive thought. Beating the fear of failure and creating a positive self-fulfilling prophecy begins long before games and tests. Be your own cheerleader—talk to yourself in positive ways each day.

he has in life. Consider the following: • How you respond to expectations of others. Once Les Brown had been labeled and put in special education, no one expected much effort from him. But a high school teacher expected more from him. That teacher told Mr. Brown that he knew he was capable of succeeding in whatever he tried—if he would just try. Les Brown began to change his thinking. First, he believed that teacher, then he believed in himself. Then, he believed in his dream of becoming a disc jockey. When that dream became reality, he knew he could accomplish all he set out to do. And so can you. • Be your own cheerleader. The expectations of others can put a lot of pressure on you, but they also can make you work harder. If you feel that your parents expect good grades from

you, and that your coach expects no-hitters, you’ll have a lot of expectations of yourself. Stay positive and believe in yourself. And remember that if you try your hardest, no one can expect more from you than that. Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying new things. You may not be good at something new right off. But with practice, you may find that you can be very good at it. ❏

Losing Isn’t a Disaster

Take Talk to

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you still lose the game or don’t do well on a test. Not winning or not getting an A isn’t a disReplace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Negative Message Positive Message aster. It just means that I am not good at math. I can study and do well in math. you’ll need to try again. I am no good at sports. I like basketball and can practice to do well. More practice or some I will mess this up. I can do this. extra study can help your I didn’t study hard enough. If I don’t do well this time, I’ll try again. next try be better. If Les I am __________________________ I can ________________________________. Brown had continued to I am __________________________ I can ________________________________. believe he was slow, he I am __________________________ I can ________________________________. never would have tried to accomplish all that


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