I feel like this article needs to start with a cheesy quote, so here we go:
“IT’S OKAY TO BE SCARED. IT MEANS YOU’RE ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING REALLY, REALLY BRAVE.“Nadine Richter
I actually don’t just think it’s okay to be scared – to a certain extent – I also think it’s necessary to keep the right amount of respect towards something that scares us. If we choose to approach this the right way, fear can be our friend too. I mean think about it, it’s our natural instinct of recognizing a threat when it’s in front of us. Humankind has outgrown this through a few million years of evolution. It’s not, because we are physically the strongest. So let’s thank our brain. On the other hand, sometimes our brain gets overactive and fear can get in our way. What I’ve learned though, it will never help, to get upset about our fears & about the way we are making 100 laps without trying anything at all (I think you might know what I’m talking about). The key is not fighting fear. Instead, we should learn how to own & deal with it.
The following realization that kinda enlightened my mind came to me pretty recently:
When I have an anxiety attack (which happens very regularly), I always manage to pull myself together and go to work. Well, mostly because I have to. But why wouldn’t I approach a scary trick the same way? Just get my sh** together and go for it. Especially when (other than work sometimes) this is something I really really want to actually do! That should be a pretty solid reason to motivate me, right?
Here’s the less enlightening part:
It hardly ever feels quite that easy.
I have talked to many people about how to own fear & I’ve heard different answers to what their struggles are and what helps them conquer them. One thing I definitely realized is I’M NOT ALONE. It’s very common for us girls that we often hold back for too long and we have WAY too little confidence in our abilities, especially when it comes to trying new obstacles/tricks. Instead, we usually choose to imagine the worst possible that could happen to us if we were to try. So I’ve been trying to find new ways of approaching this kind of situation in a more effective way and finally start believing in myself a little more. I’ve learned in life so far that a major step towards owning fear is understanding how it actually works from a scientific perspective.
What does threat – (potentially getting hurt) – do to the body & mind?
Potential threats can trigger our nervous system, putting our bodies into fight or flight mode or simply said „survival mode“. This chemical reaction makes our heart beat faster, we can feel a little shaky, or maybe our stomach feels sick, etc. And this definitely triggers us into thinking even more negative thoughts. We think about the worst possible outcomes, rather than the opposite, and all that happens with a simple thanks to our negativity bias.
Heard of this two-word combo before? It is thought to be an adaptive evolutionary function (or simply said, a thought pattern that results from human evolution) that is „hardwired“ in our brains. It means that we notice & remember negative stimuli way stronger than the opposite. What most people don’t know is, it takes 5 positive interactions for the human brain to counterbalance one single negative one. So consciously thinking of the good actually takes a lot of effort (& courage), but being aware of this, is a game-changer. It can definitely help you own your monkey mind, instead of it owning you!
So what can we do, to prepare ourselves for a new trick and overcome the barrier of actually trying it for the first time?
I have asked a few girls & guys what helps them to find the courage to try new tricks and received some pretty good & helpful answers – thank you! Also got some rather doubtful responses, such as: just drink a few beers before you try – not too sure if I’d recommend choosing that as a coping strategy.
These tips have already helped me change my perspective and maybe they’ll help change yours too.
To create some „food for thought“, I will put the best tips I received as a counterbalance to any negative thoughts you might experience on a regular basis:
Negative thought: I’m not skilled enough
Positive affirmation: I tried every other trick that is a pre-step to the one that I want to learn, and I can land all of those safely, I’m ready!
Negative thought: I’m going to get hurt
Positive affirmation: I have people around watching out for me in case anything happens, I’m safe
Negative thought: The worst is going to happen
Positive affirmation: I talked to someone who knows this trick by heart or who has done this obstacle a million times before and have reassured myself that what could happen if I fall isn’t actually that bad. It’s worth it.
Negative thought: I can’t stop overthinking this
Positive affirmation: Once I’m on the water, I talk to myself positively, telling myself I CAN do it and stop thinking!
(For example you can count till 3 when you approach the obstacle, this will recenter the attention of your thoughts a little bit)
Other helpful things:
– Listening to encouraging/powerful music
– Riding a lot until I get more confidence on the board
– Doing the tricks you already know a million times so you gain feeling for the board
– Finding a shred buddy so you can push, support & watch out for each other!
Last but not least I want to say that it doesn’t matter where you are on your journey. The hype after finding the courage to leave your OWN comfort zone will always feel priceless. I think that everyone would agree with me on that.
“Feeling Anxious is normal and okey, but don’t let it bring you down. You can do it!”