Monday, October 20, 2008


Did you know that in a university study, participants rated
public speaking as their number one fear!

Three places higher than death!

That's right, according to the study on fear, people would rather
die than speak publicly. That's how powerful fears can be! I will tell you something though, there is no such thing as public speaking! You are either speaking aloud or thinking to yourself. That's it. The only difference is how many people are listening!

But that's off topic, let's move on to our discussion on fear.

Some fears are hard-wired into us through genetics for our protection. Two examples of this are more easily explained using animals:

  1. Chimpanzees raised in captivity, having never been in their natural habitat, react with fear when shown a picture of a snake.
  2. The Galapagos Islands are famous for their animal's lack of fear of humans. But, this is not true on all of the islands. At one time, hunting was allowed on a few of the islands. On these, even though hundreds of years have passed since hunting was outlawed, animals there still react with a fear response to humans.
Fears can also be established in other ways, and with enough reinforcement can even become full blown phobias. Examples:
  1. Fear Caused By An Initial Sensitizing Event: We'll stick with public speaking here, though we could use any example, such as being bit by a dog, or getting knocked over by a big wave, elevators, heights, etc. All it takes is one incident with a strong feeling of fear (the ol' fifth grade oral report was a good one), to establish the base fear. So let's say the fifth grade oral report was an extremely uncomfortable event for you. Then, years later, you find they you have to speak publicly for your job. Your subconscious scans memories for previous experiences and BAM, all of the sudden, you feel exactly like as you did as a scared fifth grader. Heart racing, palms cold and sweaty, arm pits soaked, mouth dry. And now armed with two examples, the subconscious fear has been reinforced and you may never become comfortable speaking to groups.
  2. Fear By Direct or Indirect Suggestion: A parent or person of authority can also establish a lifelong fear for a child. For example; A parent gets scared or nervous each time they have to drive over a bridge. They make statements such as "I hate driving across that bridge, it makes me so nervous." Or they hold their breath and white-knuckle it. Now, I live near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and this is a common one around here. So, years later, the child has grown up and heading to the beach with friends. Once on the bridge, the now grown up child has a panic attack. Shortness of breath, feeling of pressure on the chest, and a generalized fear that their logical reasoning can't control. They now have fear that was given to them! They may get over it, they may learn to control it, or, the fear may grow until they can't cross the bridge any more.
Those of you that have actually read this far are probably thinking, "What the hell does this have to do with poker?"

Simple. Let's take a look at a few of the fear inducers in poker.
  1. Fear of losing money
  2. Fear of looking stupid
  3. Fear of embarrassment
  4. Fear of ridicule
Any of these fears by themselves could cause a powerful emotional response. And combined, could definitely have an negative impact on how you play poker. I'm sure you're familiar with the saying that, "scared money makes none." What that adage ignores is that there are far more fears than just losing money!

So, take a moment and think about possible fears you may have when playing, and how fear may be affecting your poker game.

Tomorrow I'm going to discuss Consequences of Failure.

Good luck and don't suck,


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