8 Lessons from the Olympics: How to Overcome Fears
By Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph. D.Ever since the first modern Olympic games were held in 1896, athletes have worked hardto 'go for the gold.' Baron Pierre de Coubertin brought the ancient Greek Olympiad back to life to recreate the ideals of physical, mental and spiritual excellence demonstrated bythe competitors there. This year, the athletes at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver continue this tradition. They're training long hours, maintaining a positive attitude, andovercoming their fears - all in an attempt to accomplish their personal best.Although you may not be vying for any medals, you can learn about triumphing over worry from the stories of athletes around the world. Here are 8 obstacles to consider asyou map out your own personal strategy for success.
Overcome fear of failure.
For some, failure signifies humiliation and the loss of self-esteem. But when the goal is to perform to the best of your ability, you can feel goodabout yourself even when you don't come in first place. As Coubertain stated in theOlympic creed, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. Theessential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." Stay focused on your growth and the steps you take, not the outcome. Canadian skier Alexandre Bilodeau personified this ideal. He envisioned his courageous brother as a role model and, in the process, won the gold medal in moguls.
Overcome fear of success.
Does thinking about what might happen, after you actuallyachieve a victory, stop you in your tracks? Or do you worry that you won't meet others'high expectations of you once you win? Believing you must perform perfectly sometimesstands in the way of achieving your goal. U. S. figure skater Evan Lysacek had to dealwith this stress at the Olympics, admitting, "I did have some extra pressure coming in asthe reigning world champion." He rose to the occasion and skated with passion and skill,winning the gold medal and savoring the experience.
Overcome fear of competition
. Performance anxiety is a common and familiar phobia.Speed skater Apolo Ohno is no stranger to competition, having conquered his own fearsand come away a champion, on both the short-track and the dance floor. Entering manyraces, he has already beaten the record for the most U.S. medals in the Winter Games.Ohno doesn't always win, but he strives to perform to the best of his ability each time hecompetes. To overcome stage fright, there are many techniques you can employ: put thecompetition into perspective; do deep breathing and relaxation exercises; concentrate onyour own actions, not those around you; practice, practice, practice.
Overcome fear of sacrifice.
After 46 years of consistently taking the gold medal in pairsfigure skating, Russia/U.S.S.R. was finally was shut out from the podium. How didChina's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo manage such a feat? They endured considerablesacrifice along the way. The oldest skaters in Vancouver, they have been together for 18