Have you ever been looking forward to achieving something soooooooo much that the thought of being disappointed in the outcome seems sooooooo painful that we fail ahead of time?
Instead of psyching ourselves up and getting into the mindset of success, we psych ourselves out, and get into the mindset of failure? That is called preparing to fail in advance.
So what does it look like?
Maybe you are going for a job you have always wanted or a promotion or you are gearing up for a first time anything in your life. You are really excited, you are imagining success, and then you start thinking…”this is not going to happen so why get excited about it? What if it doesn’t happen after all, what will people think, I better not tell anyone just in case, or I will be happy if it doesn’t happen, just being here or getting this far is enough.”
We want to prevent disappointment and so we prepare ourselves for getting hurt just in case this thing doesn’t work out.
Last night as I was sharing some stories with a ladies group, I noticed a thread of psyching myself out all through my story.
It’s not easy to see because it’s a habit. It feels like a normal and wise thing to do. But when I was talking out loud, I heard it in my story and it struck me that I had missed out on all of the exciting emotions that come from anticipating positive outcomes at the risk of being disappointed and maybe risking failure. I failed ahead of time.
Do you do that? Listen to your inner critic. Does she temper your excitement over the prospect of success so that you don’t feel the pain of failure? Listen closely to your conversation. Do you hear things like, “I don’t expect anything really, and I just want to have fun.” I think I say that every time I enter the dressage arena. Yes I do want to have fun and enjoy the experience and the truth is, I want to blow my mind with an amazing ride.
What would happen if you psyched yourself up instead? How would it feel to be immersed in a positive thought river and emotions of excitement, delight and anticipation? What is the worst thing that could happen?
Why do we choose to level set our emotions with disappointment before we have even done the thing?
This is why…our brain wants to prevent us from feeling pain, any pain, even emotional pain. It’s your brain’s motivational strategy of seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and conserving energy. By default, humans are more inclined to go towards the negative thought process, it’s safer. We aren’t at risk of rejection, fear and disappointment if we set it up ahead of time.
When it comes to your own thinking it’s hard to see your own shenanigans but it is so easy to see it in others. Listen to your kids and see if you don’t hear it. And I bet you try to coach them through it and point out how they should be excited.
When you catch yourself psyching yourself out, stop, ask yourself if you like feeling disappointed in advance? Don’t be surprised if you feel more comfortable with disappointment but challenge yourself to find a different emotion.
You have an opportunity to feel anything you want while you are waiting for the outcome. What do you want to feel? You can choose to feel excitement, enthusiasm, and delight in anticipation of the outcome. There are enough opportunities for feeling disappointment that happen naturally, no need to choose that one ahead of time.
Now, go be a psyched up Goal Digger!