In recent weeks I haven’t been putting in the results. My sessions are riddled with battles, and my hard rides are haunted by large amounts of time off the back of the group. Despite strong past performances I found myself in a space I haven’t faced before; self doubt. A demon that plays tug of war with my attitude and motivation, directly effecting my performances.
In the heat of the moment, the smallest trigger can get me back in the fight. Like a pat on the back from Kahu, or a kick up the ass from Youcef, on this week’s crazies ride. But just as easily my thoughts wander to “the dark side” questioning my abilities.
Wisdom, mainly through the guidance of others, taught me self doubt is common among riders, even those who appear most confident. Self doubt causes our mind to create a rational reason to stop, not dig deeper.
As a rider with only a year of experience, I appreciate I don’t have the depth of experience to draw from. But I’ve also come a long way in that year. Through the counsel of fellow riders, my coach and friends, I know where the answer lies:
“Trust your self, use what you have inside to create.”
When self doubt battles your mind, manage it with these tools I found on Tiny Buddha. Use them to fit the demons and back on the way to following your dreams.
- Recognize the doubt, and don’t underestimate its power to influence you. If you find yourself being pulled into negative thoughts stemming from past experiences or comments from others, staying present is key to being able to focus on the positive. The first step is awareness.
- Analyze why you’re having self doubt, you can only gain confidence by facing it head on. What triggers it? It stems from you over analyzing yourself, asking questions. Those voices of the critical gremlins are way too loud, drown them out (or at least balance them) with your own chants of self-praise.
- Is there a pattern? Mine peeks through as I push myself amongst riders I have so much praise for. Find way to manage when happens, I take time to meditate, hydrate, and rest. I’d love music, but it’s not always possible in a pack going 50+. If you are feeling overwhelmed by what you perceive as not going so well, take some time away from the bike, or find a way to fall in love with the bike again. Sometimes shifting our focus away from what we are stuck on helps us take a new perspective when we come back to it. Teaching my kids to ride, and my recent purchase of a BMX are great for my mental health.
- Anticipate the pattern. I tend to get mentally tired and overwhelmed before a hard training weekend where I’ll be physically pushed. So I make extra time (even if it’s just 10 minutes) to stretch and visualize a successful training weekend. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of self-doubt when we forget to take care of our own needs.
- Take action. For me that means to stop thinking and start doing. I seek out supportive people who are also training. They understand the challenges, and they help build patience and confidence when I need it most. While it is important to strengthen your self-love muscles, it is just as important to get the support you need from others. Whether this is from friends, family, or a professional therapist or coach, getting reassurance or help from others can make a big difference. I’m lucky to have great people around me.
It’s early days in my battle with doubt, my battle continues, but just learning about myself, my triggers and how to balance it gives me confidence I’m on the right path. With the start of racing for 2016 just around the corner, I need to get myself into gear.
Want to help? Share your story. Tell me about a time you dealt with self doubt. What did you try? What worked?