Case Study: How to not care what others think of you

jussi Fear, Surfing Leave a Comment

Do you ever get nervous when you’re surfing around other people who are better than you and are afraid to make mistakes, fail and get laughed at in front of everyone?

Do you start to think what others think of you, overthink and freeze in contests and when people are aggressive in the free surf?

Would you like to overcome fear of making mistakes, getting embarrassed and not let thoughts of what others think of you cause you to underperform and give up?


lin eupMalcolm was having serious challenges surfing in front of surfers who he didn’t know or who he thought were better than him and who he looked up to.

He was worried what they might think of him and how they might laugh at him for making mistakes.

Malcolm was most frustrated about the fact that he got so nervous in front of others that he was underperforming and making beginner mistakes.

This happened both when he was free surfing and when he was competing.

Not being able to consistently surf at his full potential was slowing down his progress as an athlete and growth as a person.

Malcolm is one of the most positive and funny guys I’ve met, he’s humble and driven to improve and become the best he can be.

Unfortunately his fear of making mistakes, wiping out and getting embarrassed had slammed him onto the plateau and he didn’t know what to do so he asked for help. Brave man.

I recommended that we’d jump on a quick Skype performance diagnostics session to see if he was right for the training and if I could actually help him out overcome his mental obstacles.

Progression starts by telling the truth.


There are 3 dimensions to consistently progressing, performing at your full potential and getting into the FlowZone.

1. Technical sport skills:

The moves, maneuvers and tricks you can do in your sport snowboarding/surfing/parkour/freerunning etc. In addition to your spatial awareness and mastery of the equipment like surfboard, or snowboard.

2. Physical strength, fitness & stamina:

Having the muscle strength needed to pull certain tricks, moves & maneuvers. Even more importantly having the stamina to practice and perform at your peak level extended periods of time to avoid injuries and learn faster.

3. Headspace/Mental Game:

Your arsenal of mental tricks and habitual thought patterns to overcome mental obstacles like:

  • Fear of what others think of you
  • Fear of “What if…”
  • Second guessing, doubting your abilities or overthinking
  • Fear of making mistakes, failing and getting laughed at
  • Fear of wiping out, hitting your head on the reef, getting a concussion or drowning
  • Nervousness, anxiety and panicking in big surf or when performing in contests and in front of people

Most athletes make the mistake of only training the first two which leaves them getting frustrated, giving up, getting stuck on plateuas and never reaching the goals that were in their reach.

In Malcolm’s case we just needed to get rid of few mental blocks that were destroying his ability to consistently perform at his best in competitions and in front of other surfers.



Malcolm initially wanted to work with me because his nervousness and fear of messing up was causing him to perform way below his normal skill level when surfing in contests and in front of other surfers who better than him.

The fear of getting embarrassed and laughed at made his knees wobble and turned his internal dialogue (the way to talk to yourself in your mind) into judgemental critic. This in turn led to making mistakes and not even feeling like surfing and totally destroying his confidence.

Performing in front of other people is rooted deeply in our psychology. It was developed thousands of years ago.

We humans used to live in tribes up to about 120 people. Tribes were formed to increase your chances of survival against the harsh nature.

If you got thrown out of your tribe for stealing or pulling some other stupid feat you were pretty likely to be eaten by the predators.

This is where the fear of ‘what others think of you’ comes from. The fear of being left outside, being abandoned was a serious threat to your survival.

We are still running that same old brain which hasn’t evolved as fast as our technology. So now you got this old operating system that isn’t used to dealing with the modern world.

If you make yourself look like an ass in front of everybody, in todays world you’re pretty unlucky to die for it. But that fear still exists.

Let me show you a few techniques you can use to get rid of that mental block that’s corrupting your performance.


With Malcolm we used various different mental tricks from the MG180X mental game system I developed in the past decade during my own career as a pro snowboarder and coaching world-class action sport athletes from Olympic medalists to multiple X-Games winners and US Open Champions.

It’s funny, a lot of times we think we know ‘what other people are thinking of us’.

Yet I’m pretty sure neither me or you can read people’s minds.

Better yet, the thoughts we think others are thinking of us are most of the time negative. Thinking they are laughing at your mistakes, scrutinizing and judging what you do.

These kinds of thought patterns effectively destroys your self confidence and leads to second guessing which in turn causes you to make mistakes, fail and get embarrassed.

Exactly the thing you are trying to avoid.

Have you ever asked what someone is thinking about you? Try it out, you might be surprised what they say.


Because most of the time they are thinking the same exact thing you are thinking. “I wonder what that guy is thinking of me?” “I bet his waiting for me to fail and laugh at me.” “They probably think I’m such a looser.”

I asked Malcolm if he had ever asked what the surfers who he respected thought of him. He said he hadn’t even thought about it.

In the next training session he had news for me. He had gone and talked to one of the guys at the line up who he thought was laughing at him and judging him.

Surprise surprise the guy had actually been admiring Malcolms skills and wondered why he didn’t surf at that break more often.

surfer embarrassedWe humans are quite self centric. We like to think a lot about ourselves, not about others so much.

Please do not think you know what others think of you especially if it’s negative because you don’t. And it just chews up your self confidence and spits out insecurity.

So instead of focusing on what others think of you, focus on your surfing. Distract yourself by focusing on the waves, how you feel in the water by using MG180X Body Scanning technique for example.


Here’s one of the methods I taught Malcolm which proved to make a big difference in his confidence and ability to surf at his best.

Step #1 – Recall

Right now take a moment to recall the memory of an incident where you felt like other people were judging you, laughing at you or thinking negative of you. This can be in contest or when you were free surfing.

Got it? Okay good.

Step #2 – Pull Out

Now you have a memory in your mind. That memory is either one or more images or videos. And those are either 2D or 3D meaning that you can see picture/’s or video/’s in front of you or you’re inside them.

Usually those images or videos are close to you and that’s what’s generating the power for that fear that causes hesitation, second guessing and self doubt.

Now imagine pulling out of the memory. As if you got onto a hot air balloon and started rising higher and higher. See yourself below in that memory or in the videos/pictures as you get smaller and smaller the further away you get. Keep rising till you see the country itself from above, then the earth and all the way till you see the whole galaxy.

Step #3 – Repeat

Now repeat this for 10 times and while doing it speed up the process 2-5X faster.

Step #4 – Test

Next recall that memory and notice how much your feeling towards it has changed.What you’ve just done is diluted the emotional grip that memory had on you.

If it hasn’t repeat the process or layer in another technique like SWITCH IT or LOOPER for example.


After I was confident that we’d worked on erasing the negative emotional fear links connected to surfing in front of people better than him we needed to instal new positive thinking patterns. These will assure that you stay focused on the right things automatically instead of falling back into old bad habits of judging and being hard on yourself.

Malcolm Daly

To help Malcolm perform better in contests and under pressure I also taught him the RESET and SWITCH IT methods to remove nervousness and help Malcolm stay focused.

Also we added a simple yet one of the most powerful method pro’s use to learn faster and progress further. For this I taught Malcolm MG180X technique called REANIMATION which is an upgraded method to the old school visualization developed for accelerated learning.


I’ll let Malcolm do the talking.

Here’s an additional written testimonial Malcolm gave:

“My mental game was the weakest part and now it’s the strongest. Getting psyched out with other people it throws you off so much and you’re not on your game and focused so all those exercises that we did really help me I’m able to get into my own zone and focus on my own performance rather than worrying about everything else happening around me.”

-Malcom Daly, Surfer from Canada


confidence gainer mental game course

Learn how to gain full confidence in yourself

A good place to start is the Confidence Gainer online course I’ve made action sport athletes like yourself. Whether you surf, snowboard, freerun or do any other action sports you’ll learn the basics of mental game in this course and how to overcome fear of getting embarrassed and what others think of you.

Just click the link below to learn more about the course:


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