For some reason they assume they ought to be good from the beginning. Even in their first game they try to be original. They're afraid to imitate moves they saw someone else play. It feels like watching someone trying to learn a language by not imitating the sounds they hear when others speak it.
But those that i saw who became really good, were always on the other end of the spectrum. Those who jump right in and played /really/ bad without any anxiety or pressure (no thinking at all and mostly just stubborn imitation of moves they saw someone else play before) and fast (many many many games, often not even to the end), almost always sticked to the game long enough to learn to appreciate and enjoy it, and sometimes even managed to excel at it.
There's something magical about the fearlessness of just playing. Pure curiosity, maybe even quite a bit of ambition, but especially the absolute surrender to repeated and premeditated failure.
Logically, I consider the possibility that such things can be learned or cultivated, and that perhaps I can one day be fearless and curious. But emotionally, there is something pessimistic inside me that believes I will always be this way.
It's quite a disturbing thing to contemplate.
Go is a language and should be tought like a language. You don't explain phonetics to a child, but instead let it immitate sounds, scream and giggle. Try explaining phonetics to a six-month-old child.
There's no reason why you couldn't just play a game, play fast without thinking, and immediately start another one, maybe even before finishing the first one. What you're doing that way is not looking for ways to win, but for the responses you get for your actions. It's like babbling 'apdy' at your father and getting back a 'daddy'. Thinking about how to use your vocal chords isn't going to get you there, what you need is practice. It may not look like you're learning, but well, you do.
View it as learning the sounds of a completely new language, and imagine you're a baby trying to appreciate the noises someone else makes and then try to immitate them. There's really nothing about you that prevents you from doing this except a choice.
He says, "If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward."
I'm just discovering Go, and I am terrible! But, hey, I don't know what I'm doing and it's certainly not going to do me any harm to fail until I get it right!
Developers are great at figuring problems out, but there's no replacement for experience. I frequently create little "spikes" to figure out how to nail down a concept... and sometimes I just outright fail. I don't mind, it's a learning experience.
Take a step back from the game, mentally, and put your focus on the metagame; track your progress over many games (might be easier with some consistent opponents), tracking area and game length as well as your recognition of the various Go forms (Seki, Double Atari, etc).
If challenging yourself doesn't work in one aspect, try another way.
You're definitely an inspiration to me, so I hope something here inspires you to overcome your challenges!
When I first started training BJJ, I was indeed scared about being "stuck" in bad situations when rolling. I trained anyway. What I tell the beginners is that I'm not the most athletic or the most talented, but I've trained regularly for years. In fact, I feel that I'm actually a slow learner in jiu-jitsu. Showing up to practice despite my fears is why I've learned what I have.
I don't like being controlled by fears, so I find I'm drawn to the activities that scare me. The standup portion of fighting - boxing and muay-thai - scare me. I'm not good at it. But when my jiu-jitsu training partners spar, I spar too. I'm scared, but I don't like backing down because of that fear.
What I'm finding (and this may change, as I've only been doing this a few years) is not that the fear of new things (and being bad at doing new things) goes away, but that I can recognise it as something that will pass, and ignore it until it is no longer there. Because I've seen the pattern enough times to know that that sort of fear always goes away. And I have some shiny new skills to show for it.
My problem, and Raganwald's, is that I can generally read the rules of any new game and, based on those rules, formulate a strategy. I might not expect to win, but I at least have enough understanding of the mechanism of the game that I can pick a direction and run with it. (I was going to say, "that I can play passably well", but that really isn't it at all -- it's the formulation of strategy that's important to me, and, I suspect, Raganwald.)
So what happens in Go? Well, you're told the rules, and then you're given a few hints that don't make any sense to you, like the 3-4 stone. Either way, it's impossible to form a strategy. You might as well stand above the board and let stones loose from your fingers to fall randomly upon it.
And my teachers, bless their hearts, took it upon themselves to win by extremely large margins repeatedly, which I would not have taken personally if only I had finished each game with the feeling that I had learned something.
In the end, I became an "eh" player, but found myself dreading Tuesday night Go club, found it occupying too much of my mind space, and found that it wasn't really giving me anything positive in return.
There were very very few long term new recruits in the local club.
So i've heard of two different ways to teach go -- the Eastern way and the Western way.
The western way is to be told the Rules, the Object, and the Strategy and Tactics that will get you there.
The eastern way (this is hearsay) is that a teacher shows you the rules -- and then leaves you to memorize 50 games in their entirety, on your own.
For someone who's done all his learning the western way, my first reaction to the eastern way was "that's stupid."
What's not said in the eastern way is that you learn in reverse. First you have to puzzle out the Tactics -- why did they do this and not this? Why did they take 10 seconds for these 5 moves and 5 minutes for this one? Then you can start to figure out the strategies and feel the flow of the game. Then, maybe -- only maybe -- can you then guess at the actual object of the game.
After memorizing 50 games, then a teacher might actually help you. How dumb! how silly! And yet, this way, the teacher already knows that the student is willing to work.
Anyway, that kind of rambled. I'm sorry you had bad teachers. There's lots of them, probably myself included. Go is really, really hard to teach. I still don't know what the object is, just how to count the score at the end...
I simply cannot commit a large enough number of games and sequences to memory.
I do however have a better-than-average working memory, which allows me to compensate in most games by visualizing lots of different game sequences simultaneously.
Go is not one of those games.
I would say that being able to visualize lots of different game sequences is crucial in go to learning tactics. You'll do great! Give it another shot :D
However, once you know the trick, you don't need anyone to teach you, but just someone you can imitate. Just get them to be quiet and play lots of games with you, or ask them questions when you really need to know something. Be the driver of your own learning, then your teacher's teaching skill matters less.
I think initially go particularly punishes people who are very strong at thinking their way through combinatorial problems.
If you're good at strategy in general, and used to quickly and deliberately thinking through decision trees, I think it's only natural to build up a sense of confidence of being able to be good at nearly any game.
But go utterly defeats this, as the initial few moves of the game involve very vague intuition. Certainly experienced players have a library of standard opening formations and patterns they rely on, but more importantly, they've played the countless games necessary to intuitively apply that knowledge effectively. There's a saying that if you learn the standard patterns (joseki) you become 2 stones weaker. It's true. It takes many games to integrate that knowledge into actual play effectively. Trying to learn it before you're ready is counterproductive.
The other proverb is great advice: lose your first 100 games as fast as possible. I'm still on this path, and have gone from understanding little to playing even against 14k players in the local club.
Keep courage, the anxiety may not go away, but the enjoyment of the game will rise to meet it.
Writing is a good example. Go feels like trying to learn to write with the instruction to place letters on the board one at a time, but I don't know any words or why there are these funny squiggly marks and dots next to some of the words, or why some of the letters are bigger than others, or why there are blank spaces between some of the groups of groups of letters.
And that isn't the point either, because I'm not afraid of learning to write by myself. The fear is a social fear.
That's the thing. Of course some people won't like what you've done. Of course you'll make a mistake. Of course you'll get rejected. Being able to accept that will at least put you past the self-defeating stage. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.