Overcoming failure in sport: A self-forgiveness framework

Richard Gregory Cowden, Everett L. Worthington

Abstract

Within the winner or loser dichotomy that exemplifies competitive sport, athletic success hinges on the ability to overcome and respond constructively to failure. This article introduces self-forgiveness as an adaptive, purposeful approach to coping with competitive sport performance failure in a way that stimulates personal growth and combats loss of motivation. In contrast to defensive responses that shield self-integrity, genuine self-forgiveness is reached through a process in which athletes (a) accept personal responsibility for their role in the unsuccessful performance outcome and (b) restore self-regard by affirming the self. Although athletes expose themselves to uncomfortable emotional experiences associated with failure, self-forgiveness is proposed as a process that enables athletes to objectively evaluate unsuccessful performances, identify areas warranting improvement, and develop adaptive psychological recovery responses to failure.


Keywords

Self-forgiveness; Failure; Sport; Athletes

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2019.142.01





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