We are all products of past experiences, and our attitudes toward new ones. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be) the latter is influenced by the former. People who are not encouraged to succeed as children, have difficulty justifying the effort as adults. Those who are constantly criticized as children, find it difficult to expose their talents or desires as adults, for fear of being chastised.
When I hear parents constantly using negatives to discipline their kids, I seethe inside. I may not know what infraction the child committed, but the sin of the parent is much greater, because it creates a permanent emotional scar that they have no right inflicting on another human being, even if it is their own child. So, what has this to do with pool? Everything!
Pool is a game-or maybe I should say just a game. Either way, it is game that required a player to "expose" certain skills and thought processes publicly. People who were not encouraged as children to express their feelings, talents or skills may find the game of pool too intimidating. That, to me, is a crime. No one should be afraid to express themselves on a pool table or anywhere else. Few beginners experience anxiety, because nothing is expected of them. It is only when a level of skill is reached whereby success and failure become consequential factors that fear and uncertainty enter the picture, especially when put on display.
Anxiety is a symptom of many types of fear, but mostly those related to the very condition of being human. And it is epidemic in society today. In fact, I suffer from anxiety when I shoot, but it is self imposed. I hate losing with a passion, and I have reached an age where losing is more likely, due to the natural wear and tear of aging. To make matters worse, smoking, drinking, high stress jobs and a general spastic personality have contributed to my transformation into something akin to a jerk on ice. But I worked and played hard to get here, and I ain't gonna waste the investment on reform at this point.
If you suffer from anxiety when you shoot pool, remember that you are not alone. Everyone suffers the problem to some degree. Just remember, you are not being "graded", and the real contest is between you and the table, not you and another person.
If you are among those who can't resist being critical of others, may I suggest that you shut your mouth and only open it to eat, preferable something that causes a rash.
I am not suggesting that advanced players should not offer advice and positive encouragement. But avoid statements like: "You stupid fungus! Why did you attempt a hairbrained shot like that!" Such negative responses can discourage anyone from ever picking up a stick again.
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