Fighting Fear in Your Personal Life
Bonham: Where have you had to fight against fear in your personal life?
Cullen: When our third boy was born, I had been traded to Ottawa and we were playing in the playoffs at Pittsburgh. My wife Bridget went to the hospital during game two of the series and had our boy Joey. I couldn’t get home that night. He had problems with his lungs. That was a time when I leaned on my faith. I was praying about making sure Joey would make it through each day. Eventually he was fine, but I was very nervous and scared about the situation early on.
Bonham: What would you say to other athletes and coaches that might be dealing with fear?
Cullen: First and foremost, prayer is so helpful. But I think that you need to face your fears head on. Don’t avoid them or say that you’re not scared. Acknowledge it and be honest about it. It’s normal to get nervous about a big game or to get nervous about an important event in your life. Everyone is going to be afraid sometimes. Then you ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of?” Then you can address it, because there’s nothing to be afraid of. It helps a lot when you just face it and put it in perspective. It gives you that courage to fight through it. As an athlete, you can’t be afraid to make a mistake. Courageous people are not afraid to fail. So often in life and in sports, we’re afraid to fail. Instead, we should attack things with excitement and enthusiasm and think about the positives as opposed to the negatives.