When we miss a shot or make a mistake, most of us get that sick feeling in our gut of disappointment. This, for many, is hard to recover from and can be the difference between finding success or continual disappointment. Failure is a devastating feeling that can spark an emotional flame inside of us. Unfortunately, it will continue to burn and spread until we personally extinguish it. That emotion will affect one’s performance and ultimately prevent a hunter from being able to achieve success in the field.
It is important to be able to dissect your mistake and learn what went wrong in order to change or adapt your strategy in the future. However, once you have reviewed your failure, you need to let it go. Accept your mistake and move forward. This can be very easy for some and for others very challenging. Sometimes we refuse to forget about our failure, and that gut-wrenching feeling continues to worsen. It is fueling our negative emotions of anger and disappointment. This fixation often causes you to second guess yourself and it reduces your confidence. The ability to become mindful of that fixation is a skill that will allow you to take control in such a pivotal moment. It is where you decide if you open the door for more failure, or shut down the negative mindset and take the necessary steps to move forward.
Mindfulness, perhaps best described as the ability to become aware of your thoughts and emotions and refocus your mind, is a practice that can be used to draw your attention away from your past mistake. This can be done in many ways. Everyone is different, but we all have our own things that comfort us and successfully leveraging them can be our greatest strength.
One technique that can act as a catalyst for refocusing your mind is slowing down and focusing on your surroundings. Stop and go through some of your senses and only focus on what is happening around you in that exact moment. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? Focusing on these things will help distract your mind and draw your attention away from what is upsetting. After you have had some time away from the situation, it will be easier to revisit and look at what went wrong in a less emotional state. This will allow you to properly analyze the moment, learn from it, and move away from it.
A second technique to refocus your mind is to replay a past hunt that you had success on. This will lift your spirits and help bring back your confidence to show you that you have the ability to make that clean kill. Again, this will also help you to revisit that failure in a less emotional state and enable the learning process.
A final technique is very simple and easy to implement. Just take the time to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Don’t think about anything else, only that inhale and exhale. Keep that focus for a few minutes and when ready return to the present moment. You have now put yourself in a better position to accept the mistake, learn from it, and move forward.
Don’t get caught up in failure. Everyone has a bad shot or blown opportunity during their time in the field. This is part of the experience and can truly help us grow. So, the next time you find yourself in a situation where you failed, do your best to implement one of these techniques. A hunter’s mindset is as useful of a tool as his body, and consciously practicing these techniques will help make it your greatest asset.