Falling Failure in Acro
My goal was to stop being afraid, of failing when doing Acro.
Today is a stormy day here in the mountains. It is raining so much that Tomas “had to” take off his clothes when he ran over to the van – as a minimalist he only brought 1 pair of pants, which he wanted to keep dry – haha. Sitting in our beautiful working space, there was time to let thoughts drift away and to write this article in which I share with you my exploration of my fear of failure.
After being stationary for 2 months in Berlin we travelled to an Acrobatic Festival in Croatia (1). During our very long drive we spoke about we wanted to learn;
Tomas’ goal was to improve upon existing skills and learn a bunch of cool tricks.
My goal was to stop being afraid, of failing when doing Acro.
The muggles of Acrobatics might assume that someone who jumps on top of another person is fearless. Certainly, doing Acrobatics brings in a risk of getting injured, but, with growing experience there comes a point where you can reduce this risk to a minimum.
In my Acrobatic practice, it’s not the fear of hurting myself, but of failing and therefore disappointing others, that drags me down; after making a mistake, my rising anxiety for the next trick might grow until it reaches a point where I can’t enjoy the training anymore. Resulting in feeling shame, low self-esteem and wanting to hide.
One afternoon, after miscommunicating in a trick – leading to falling on top of my base – I felt covered by a dark cloud throughout the rest of the workshop. Afterwards I talked with Tomas about it. I told him that, I was afraid to lose friends, because my Acro-level is not high enough and of disappointing him when my mistakes keep us from progressing.
He took the time to listen, and when hearing his completely different perspective it helped me to perceive things a little differently. We both do Acro because we enjoy it, especially enjoy it with each other. And that this is not only true for me, but also for him. So, why should I allow these creeping thoughts to stop me from enjoying part of life?
I know that I am not the only one out there struggling with this mindset.
And so I want to share with you the things that helped me to feel more comfortable.
1) You are not the only one
I enjoyed reading the article over on verywellmind about the very same topic (2), as it gave me a more structured view.
2) Thinking thoughts through
What I mean here is escaping emotional circles of anxiety through rationalising them. Talk honestly and openly to people about your feelings.
3) Stepping out of my comfort zone… Jumping to the Dark Side
There are tricks where you repeatedly do the same mistakes. Even though I am not afraid of falling badly anymore, the fear-induced movement patterns I have developed are anchored in my body. So I need to break them; to do new mistakes at the very least. For example, in my handstand I used to close my shoulders – as it gives me more sense of control – now it helps me to jump past my usual balance point, focusing on keeping open shoulders… Whether or not I hit the line is less important than breaking that pattern.
4) Good planning
Everyday at Acroatia, we had to demo what we were going to teach in front of 80 acrobats with sharp eyes. Which can be totally intimidating! Taking time to do solid preparation made me feel confident about what I was about to do; “This is what I can do and teach you!” Thinking ahead to what I know brings me fear & anxiety, and taking steps to minimise that helps me a lot.
Which also leads on to my next point…
5) Finding my very own training routines
Starting a training session by drilling the basics in a calm environment every morning really helps me to see my own improvements, and to feel more confident trying out new things. Basics can be wherever you are at in your own training, from a quick recap of skills, to pre-exercises or drills to improve on a challenging skill. The key here is taking the pressure out of a result, and sticking to a pre-defined number of repetitions, not getting caught in your head about the outcome.
Once I take the time to meditate, to breathe deeply and be with myself, I feel lighter throughout the entire day. Being more with myself makes it less important to me what others might think, as I remember just how much I enjoy the beauty of being and moving in my body.
7) Improving my diet
For years now I struggle with reacting badly to food; being bloated, tired and even depressed after nearly every meal led me to a state of helplessness and a habit of giving up on myself. Research has shown how digestion problems like IBS or food intolerances can make people feel depressed and sick.
I knew I had to change something for a long time, but still, it is hard to break a cycle… Especially, when everybody around you is able to indulge themselves in whatever they want, particularly peanut butter! Sticking to plain food (for example: rice & cucumber, or a banana & hard-boiled egg) and smaller portions helped me to feel painless after eating, which ultimately led to a much more content version of myself.
Summing it all up:
Long story short, I found a couple of habits that made my life easier, which are a combination of mindset change, body-work and new routines. I think that many people out there get caught in a wheel, because they fear something which may never come to be, or something that is really not all that important.
I share with you my own experience to let you know, that if you also have this undefinable fear inside of you: you are not alone and maybe you have found here some aspects that can make things more understandable and nudge some compassion towards yourself.
Acro-love & hugs,
Tomas & Marie xo
We sincerely hope that this article provided you with useful information that you can put into action. If you have any feedback, personal experiences or questions, feel free to leave a comment.
- AcroAtia, great Acrobatic convention in Croatia, we had a wonderful time and will be back teaching again! https://www.acroatia.org
- Verywellmind; What Is the Fear of Failure? By Kendra Cherry. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-fear-of-failure-5176202