Have you ever wondered what the secret behind the success of great boxing legends such as Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson was?
Well, many people will tell you that they were talented and did a lot of training.
This is true, but the ultimate reason why they won almost every fight against their opponents was because they showed fearlessness.
Not knowing how to handle fear is one of the reasons why many fighters fail to accomplish their dreams of greatness.
“The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.” – Cus D’Amato
How to Deal With Fear
Most of the time, when you are flooded with fear and anxiety, thinking clearly becomes quite a challenge. As a result, you end up messing things up in your mind which in turn, overwhelms you. If your fears are causing you distress, then take a step back from whatever you’re doing for some self-reflection.
There are different ways that people choose to do this. I would recommend taking a stroll by yourself to a nature spot, where you’re free from all the hustle and bustle.
When you have a free mind, ask yourself what must be done in order to accomplish your goals, and what steps you will take to get there. Be brutally honest with yourself as it’s the only way forward.
#2: Find Self-Value
Even before a fight, the thought of getting knocked out, humiliated, embarrassed or hurt has likely crossed your mind. This is completely normal but the way to get around this issue is to find self-value.
What I mean by that is that you’re brave enough to put yourself in that position, so regardless of whatever happens, you should be commended for your efforts.
Spectators on the side-lines have no right to put you down in any way, but you have to believe this yourself. Finding the kind of value in yourself that supersedes what most others aren’t willing to do will give you that extra comfort in dealing with your fears.
#3: Exposure to Fear
Do you know the best way to combat fear? As hard as it may sound, you have to expose yourself to it. The more you do something, the more experienced you are at it, including all the emotions that come along with that particular task that’s causing you fear.
So you’ve been hearing terrifying stories of your next opponent so you keep finding excuses to postpone your fight with him.
This might buy you a little time to find the nerves to go through with the task at hand, but more often than not, it only makes the challenge more daunting. Instead, make a fixture for the match and put conditions that will make backing away impossible.
#4: Strive for the Best, Welcome the Worst
Most people’s fears are usually based on the worst that could happen. Of course, you don’t want the worst to manifest into reality, but things get a lot simpler if you acknowledge it and tell yourself that you’re prepared for anything that happens.
Worried about losing or being humiliated? That’s going to hurt but even the best fighters went through that. You’re a fighter so you must understand that it comes within the territory. Welcome the worst the could happen so that you can embrace your fears easier.
#5: Don’t Dwell on the Past
Many people have a tendency to base their future on some irrational connections they have from the past. For instance, just because you lost a fight last weekend and it shattered your confidence slightly, you have to realize that this doesn’t affect the outcome of your next fight.
You’re still in the driver’s seat and you can decide on what direction to take in order to improve yourself. Tell yourself that as bad as it gets, bad history won’t repeat itself unless you allow it to. Don’t dwell on the past, learn from it and grow.
#6: Avoid Expecting Perfection
Perfection is what you should aim for, but as much as you try to reach for it, you’ll always fall short. It’s the journey to perfection that matters the most. If you feel that you haven’t quite yet mastered a particular aspect of your game, and it’s holding you back from making a decision to move forward, then ask yourself this:
“Have I given it my all?”
“Am I better than most at it?”
If the answer is yes to any of those questions, then you’re more than ready to go ahead with whatever challenge presents itself to you.
#7: Visualize Success
Fear often paralyzes people into taking action. Visualization is a technique that you should perform several times a day because it’s so important to see in your mind what you’re aiming for.
Visualize the moment that the referee will pick up your hand, and an announcement will be made that you are the winner.
Drill this vision into your head and let your desire to achieve your vision greater than fear itself.
#8: Talk About the Fear
You’ll be amazed at the therapeutic relief you get from talking about your fears to a trusted friend, relative or even better, someone that has been through what you’re currently going through. When you talk it out, you’ll receive encouragement and a sense of relief.
#9: Indulge in Basic Anxiety Cures
You may be tempted to use some drugs or even alcohol to treat fear. It’s not unusual to hear of fighters conducting in this type of behavior. However, while this may temporarily cover your fears, as soon as you’re sober, it’ll return and hit you like a tonne of bricks.
Instead, opt for a wholesome meal, a nice warm bath and a good night of sleep. I find that reading about other people’s positive and negative experiences in relation to your fear helps you to cope with it better.
It just feels better when you know that you’re not alone in this and if others have dealt with it successfully, then you can too.
#10: Reward Yourself
Learn to show gratitude to yourself each time you face your fears, regardless of whether you come out unscathed or not. A great way is to set targets and depending on what target you hit, give yourself a reward. Of course, you always want to aim for the ultimate reward and when you do hit it, raise the bar higher.
No matter if you’re competing in boxing or competing in sales, fear affects everyone. It’s an emotion that feels the same for anyone regardless of their background. Learn how to deal with it and opportunities will arise from the least likely of places. Facing your fears head on deserves recognition alone, but overcoming them deserves respect.
Written by: Oliver Thabo
To get the most out of your training, I highly recommend the following articles:
► How to Increase Punching Power
► 10 Tips to Improve Boxing Footwork
► Boxing Basics
► Top 10 Best Heavy Punching Bags
► Top 10 Best Boxing Gloves