I often get asked similar questions about Equestrian Mindset Coaching and Riding. I thought it might be useful to share these with you along with my response.
The following question comes up so often whenever I talk to people about what I do…
I get nervous when I realise people are watching me. Especially CERTAIN people. I worry about what they are thinking or saying and then I lose all my focus and go to pieces.
What can I do?
This is such a common problem. You are riding along very happily, practicing shoulder in, or warming up over the oxer, and suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you catch sight of …….THAT PERSON. The one who makes you feel like you can’t ride for toffee. Immediately, you feel sweat break out all over your body. You heart starts racing and your eyes glaze over. Your mind goes inexplicably blank and your body feels mostly numb. These symptoms are, to a greater or lesser extent, familiar to most of us at some point in our riding career. There will be someone, somewhere, who has this effect on you. Interestingly, it isn’t always someone you have bad vibes with. It might be a prospective beau who disrupts your focus in this way. It could be an ex instructor who you moved on from, or a fellow competitor who bought an expensive horse and jumped two grades ahead of you. Maybe it’s one of your parents?
In the world of coaching and mental skills, we call this your DISRUPTOR.
In order to succeed in your ride, you have to develop the mindset of soft and calm focus, so that you are aware of what is happening around you, but not to the extent that you lose your focus and concentration on your task at hand. During mental skills coaching sessions, we delve into how your brain actually works to keep you safe from perceived threats, and how you can learn new skills to manage your anxiety better. We start to challenge the reaction caused by your disruptor, first rather quietly, then as your confidence grows, more confidently, until you are able to put the disruptor in the “Meh, whatever” box. This happens for everyone at a different rate, and is also dependant on how willing you are to really do the mental homework. Everyone CAN LEARN how to better handle the way they feel and react to their disruptor.
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