There’s no specific phobia name for the fear or losing, but the fear is real. Those who suffer from this condition are often encouraged to use that fear to succeed – sometimes to disastrous results.
Many sports enthusiasts will say they need to harness their fear of losing to put everything they have into facing the competition. The problem is if the fear isn’t dealt with it simply becomes larger and ultimately less cooperative.
The fear of losing has been defined elsewhere as, “A fear of any event, outcome, situation or person that resembles, relates or symbolizes losing of any kind.”
What Causes the Fear of Losing?
The fear of losing may begin as an internal or external pressure to succeed. It can be viewed as a form of perfectionism and isn’t always thought of in negative terms, but it can lead to obsessive/compulsive disorders and an unrealistic view of what should be reasonably expected.
This fear can be the basis of workaholism, a variety of compulsive tendencies and the need to engage in unhealthy competition. It can also lead to cheating in an effort to win.
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Sometimes parents or coaches can instill this ‘win at all costs’ mentality in their players. They may not realize the pressure they put on the afflicted individual, but everyone needs to know it’s OK to fail from time to time.
It is estimated that nearly a quarter of a million Americans suffer from the fear of losing. This can manifest itself in two very different ways.
1) The feeling that you must try to win every competition available no matter who gets hurt. Usually this is done to please someone else.
2) Refuse to try anything because you are afraid you will lose.
The root cause of the fear of losing may simply be a fear of letting someone down – even if that someone is yourself.
Symptoms Associated with the Fear of Losing
This fear can exhibit itself in a lot of ways. Here’s a partial list.
- Little emotional control
- Stomach cramps
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Inability to think straight
- Panic attacks
- The feeling that you may be dying
- The belief that no one can be trusted
This fear can mean that the individual believes they are far superior to others or that they are so vastly inferior they don’t even want to try to compete with someone.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Losing
In order to master your fear of losing or failure you will need to give yourself permission to fail. Mankind has always been prone to mistakes and we must allow ourselves a sense of personal mercy in order to maintain a healthy outlook on life.
You can achieve further success in a support group or under the care of a therapist who can help you come to terms with a proper success verses failure ratio.
Perhaps the greatest gift you can give yourself is forgiveness. Failure is one of the greatest stepping-stones to success, but for those who fear losing it can be a hard step to take.