Have your big plans for sporting glory fallen flat? Here's how to turn an epic fail into epic success.
We live in a world where winners are grinners. We strive on a daily basis to be better, faster, higher achievers in our jobs, relationships, friendships and finances.
When we succeed, the smiles, applause and back slaps come thick
and fast but what about when we stuff-up - is it okay to grin about
You bet it is, say experts. In fact our blunders ought to be celebrated. Celebrated? Absolutely, because otherwise that negative voice in our heads is going to rule our lives, beat us down and hold us back.
Just think about how Aussie swimmer James 'The Missile'
Magnussen must've felt missing out on gold (by one hundredth of a
second) in the 100 metres final at the 2012 London Olympics - with
the world watching and the weight of expectation on his broad
shoulders. He would have had to turn his epic fail into something
he could live with. So how did he do that? Simple, he reflected and
CONTROL THE MOMENT
Richard Bennett, a performance psychologist and author (thesurfersmind.com), knows all about helping elite athletes learn how to cope with - and even embrace - failure as a part of their sporting life.
Bennett, who has worked with surfing legends Kelly Slater and Layne Beachley as well as the Australian Paralympic team, says it's important to get a grip on bombing out and not be tempted to lie in bed all day with the curtains drawn feeling sorry for yourself.
"Taking responsibility is empowering and can help you feel more in control of the situation. It makes you feel like the player, not the pinball. "For example, if it's a financial setback, you just narrow it down and focus on meeting your immediate responsibility for rent or food bills. Keep it as simple as possible."
LEARN FROM THE MISTAKE
That sounds easy enough but what about when we just can't let go of our mega-flop and we turn it over in our heads like a catchy pop song we can't shake off? Perhaps we feel ashamed, humiliated, disappointed or angry with ourselves for seemingly getting it wrong: most of us are champions at being our harshest critics.
Sports psychologist Georgia Ridler, senior adviser at the Queensland Academy of Sport, says it's okay to mull over what happened "but in order to move forward, we need to train our brain to think about what we want in future".
In other words, learn from our mistakes, forgive ourselves, and move on, people. Ridler, who also works in private practise with Olympians such as cyclist Anna Meares, says people have a tendency to judge themselves severely after a major boo-boo, but athletes know that the right 'script' is vital to, you know, get on the bike again.
"One way to switch off the negative voice going into overdrive
when you've had a setback or failure is to ask, 'Who is talking
right now? Is it me or is it my mum, dad, boss, or the part of me
that's been beaten down by this event. Because that's not actually
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
There may be some areas in life that are tougher to deal with - who hasn't known that feeling of failure when another relationship doesn't pan out after dreamily thinking we've finally found Mr Right? Or trying to find a job after being made redundant.
Ridler says you can climb out of your misery hole if you ask the right questions and give yourself positive reinforcements. She suggests asking: "Why did I want this in the first place? What's another way that I could get it?"
"A while ago I had to forfeit my gym membership because things were a bit tight," Ridler says. "That's when I started running and doing work-outs at home again because I knew my 'why', I love exercise and found another way to get it."
Having to deal with an unexpected injury or event can also bring you down, though thinking differently is a good way to see beyond what has occurred. "Let's say you've broken your foot and you're off your leg for three months while the bone heals. To find your 'why' just think of other ways you can exercise such as training your core muscles," Ridler says.
A crucial element is to set yourself a goal or ensure you have
something to look forward to. Or change your setback into a
'sliding door' moment - so that what can initially seem like a
disaster can turn out to be a bonus. For example, what if you'd
planned to compete in your first triathlon but had to pull out at
the last minute because you were struck down with a bad cold? You
could use your time convalescing to learn a new skill such as
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
Both Ridler and Bennett say these testing moments in life can teach us to become more resilient. And that's a powerful tool… Just ask Stephanie Gilmore. The Aussie surfing champ had a shocker of a year in 2010 when she was attacked outside her Tweed Heads, NSW, home by a stranger with an iron bar.
Injured, shaken and vulnerable, Gilmore had to take months off to recover - and could easily have hung up her surfboard. Instead the 24-year-old played to her strengths and won her fifth world surfing title in July this year. Bennett says Stephanie doing what she loves most helped her overcome her fears.
"Love is patient, love pays attention, but love also takes
risks," he says. So remember to pick yourself up, dust yourself off
and get back on the roller-coaster of life the next time you've
'failed' at something.
At the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Jane Saville, then 25, was competing in the 20 km race walking event. She was in the lead and on the final stretch when she was disqualified for an illegal walking gait. She later won bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The swimmer missed out on a medal at the 2012 London Olympics after having won three gold in Beijing. Dealing with a shoulder injury, the 24-year-old said she felt she gave it her all, but that it simply wasn't a winning time.
After retiring in 2006, Thorpie announced his comeback and hoped to join the Australian swimming team in London. But the 30-year-old failed to qualify. He later said the loss was "a gift" as it has helped him realise how much he loves swimming.
The 29-year-old tennis player was ranked in the top five in 2002 until dramas with her dad, Damir, ruined everything. She returned home in 2008 and was soon back in the top 100. This year she's had to deal with a few injuries but she refuses to give up.