LADERA RANCH, Calif. — For student-athletes, not reaching a goal or meeting an expectation may bring about thoughts of failure. Maybe they missed a shot at the “big game” or provided an incorrect answer on a quiz. Perhaps they feel like a parent, teacher, or coach is disappointed in them.
Let’s also not forget what it feels like to be a pre-teen/teenager when the perception is that every decision about one’s social life is at a life-or-death level. For kids this age, questioning thoughts and doubts are plentiful: Are my clothes stylish enough? What will my friends think? What if my body and appearance are different from the others? And it’s these thoughts of failure that create emotions like fear, anxiety, stress, and self-doubt. In turn, these emotions drive behavior and results.
It’s a pattern: Core Thought —> Core Feeling/Emotion —> Behavior/Result.
For example, teenagers may think they are victims because they have no control over the world around them and they are at the mercy of events and circumstances. This thought may lead to feelings of apathy, including reduced engagement and enthusiasm. The behavior—or result—may often be lethargy with the inability to take action, lack of initiative, or the ability to see other options.
As individuals, we view the world through a set of filters. If you’re wearing blue-colored glasses, the world looks blue. If you’re wearing green-colored glasses, the world looks green. We all have these preconceived notions, and they are based on all our life experiences and the influences of everyone we meet. These ideas form the basis of our belief system and how we view and approach situations.*
So, what do we do to overcome this barrier? We have to re-train ourselves to think differently. It begins with the self-awareness that we are responsible for our own happiness and fulfillment. At any given time, you can make a new decision to be happy. You can make a new decision to respond to your environment from a position of choice and gratitude. By learning to understand and harness our thoughts and emotions, we can practice using them to drive conscious behavior with purpose.
In short, we can consciously respond to things in our life instead of unconsciously reacting by default. This shift in mindset doesn’t happen overnight; it is a long process that will take considerable commitment, patience, and forgiveness. Ultimately, the path to peace, happiness, and fulfillment lies in the journey, not the destination.