How your attitude affects your confidence (and what you can do about it!)

Attitude and self-confidence seem to exist in a dynamic state of flux. They are involved in a cosy little relationship where they like to do pretty much everything together. If Self-Confidence fancies going for a ride, it asks Attitude how it feels about it. If Attitude is having a good day, chances are Self-Confidence will be feeling pretty perky also. They are basically co-dependents (let’s be honest).

The pesky problems arise when we base our attitude and our self-confidence on things that are outside of our control. Quite often, our self perception is based on a “ranking system”, where we judge ourselves and “how well we are doing” against a particular external event or circumstance. This means, that if we are “doing well” or we feel like we’re doing well in a particular activity or at particular challenge then our self-confidence is increased, and vice versa.

And herein lies the key; perception. In order for us to develop a consistently positive attitude and self-confidence, we have to develop new ways to talk to ourselves, to change our self-perception and to navigate through our riding challenges in a way that promotes and uplift us rather than denigrates and downgrade us.

Changing your attitude towards yourself is the key to building confidence that is not based on external markers and success.

Here are four things to work with to boost your attitude and your confidence!

1. Self talk.

Notice how you talk to yourself, especially when things aren’t going to plan. Self talk is so important because it highlights for you what you believe to be possible, and as a result of that belief system, how much potential you tap into.  Really be aware of how you’re talking to yourself; if you find you are talking to yourself in an overly critical way, recognise what is happening and actively choose to delete the negative voice.

What is useful at this point is to have a “personal mantra” or a one liner that inspires you that you can repeat to yourself; something that redirects your focus and reminds you of what it is you are working towards.

2. Practice a different response. 

If you’re used to being your own worst critic- for example if you conditioned yourself to react in a specific way in response to an event- then it can be a little bit hard to break out of that cycle and choose a different manner of thinking, a different way to respond- but that’s exactly what you have to put into practice. If you notice yourself being overly judgmental towards yourself, decide to choose a different thought. You do have the choice! Clarifying for yourself what it is that you want as opposed to what it is you are trying to avoid is an important part of this process; look to move towards something as opposed to away from something.

3. Choose to surround yourself with positive people.

The saying goes that you are the sum total of the five people that you spend most time with, so make sure they are quality people who think quality things and expect quality outcomes! It really is so important. If you feel like your self-confidence is something that needs to be nurtured make sure that you choose external circumstances and environments that support you- choose the people that you surround yourself with, choose environments that you put yourself in and really treat yourself as a work in progress that needs to be supported and uplifted.

4. Practice, practice, practice, practice practice, practice.

Everything that I’ve talked about- practicing self talk, practicing choosing a better response, practicing dropping critical self judgment- these are all practices, they are all skills that come with time and repetition. And the only way to gain those skills is to put them into practice. Don’t beat yourself up if it you forget or slip back into your “old ways” despite your best intentions. Press reset and practice again. Over time, your new, positive practices will become your default, and it will be easier and easier to pick yourself up in the face of challenge and keep moving forward in the direction you desire.

xx Jane


Want to work on your attitude? Grab your Winning Attitude Cheat Sheet!

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How NOT to let your mind run away with you!

One of the most common conversations I have with riders involves breaking patterns; intercepting modes of behavior or ingrained responses that are preventing them from doing the things that they want to do, or getting in the way of them being able to produce a certain result.

Firstly, realising that we are in control of responses- at all times- is crucial. If you think that your mood or reactions are due to people or circumstances outside of yourself, then you immediately give away your personal power to that which you have no control over. Terrible idea. Don’t do that.

What I want to talk about now, however, is consciously designing a “thought interceptor” (sounds like something off the matrix I know!) that use can utilise to redirect your focus when the superhighway of your brain space is travelling in the wrong direction.

But first, a back story.

There’s an economy to the thinking process that is designed to save us time which essentially takes several chunks of different information or activities and groups it together into one bulk item. For example rising to the trot; after a while that becomes an unconscious activity that you don’t have to think too much about, even though there are several different elements that contribute to making that possible.

Driving your car is another example of this; after a while you don’t have to think about the separate elements that form together to allow you to drive your car as unique activities. They become one item which is involved to “driving your car”.

Once your brain realizes that there is certain pattern of behavior that you are repeating again and again they become conditioned responses in the nervous system; the sole reason behind this is to ensure that we are operating efficiently. It’s there to save us time so every time were are presented with stimulus A, we know that reaction B needs to come from that; creating a neurological shortcut between those two points allows us to operate in the most efficient manner possible.

I’m going to continue on with the driving analogy because it’s a really good way of illustrating the point of using a thought interceptor in your everyday life and certainly for your riding.

Let’s say for instance you’re driving to work and you drive the same route every day; after a while, the driving experience of getting from A to B becomes essentially an unconscious activity. Of course there are elements of conscious behavior; you know you stop here, you know you go there, but certainly along the way our minds can deviate from the task at hand and we can be thinking about how our last training session went or what we watched on TV the night before. All manner of things comes up in our conscious mind while our unconscious mind is busy showing us the way.

So what happens if one day you are driving to work and all of a sudden there is a tree that’s fallen down, completely blocking your route? That is a pattern interrupt. What happens at that point is the unconscious mind gives over its power to the conscious mind, which is essentially the decision-maker. The decision-making power always lies with the conscious mind, so whenever something happens which deviates from the norm it pulls you out of this unconscious patterning of behavior and asks for a new decision to be made.

In order to force the unconscious or subconscious mind into a new decision-making mode you have to throw a spanner in the works. Why? When we have been practicing a certain outcome for a period of time, it becomes a conditioned response and our nervous system is habituated to behave in a certain way. In order for the outcome to be different, or for the pattern of behavior to change, we need to intersect the path with something, and that’s where a pattern interrupt becomes so useful and so handy.

One of my big catch phrases I use myself is “choose a better thought“; what is the best thought that I can choose in this situation?  Despite what you may be feeling, you are always free to choose a better thought than the one you’re currently thinking. For instance, if I am wanting to introduce a very simple pattern interrupts to a negative thinking process, if I manage to catch myself at that point that point where the negative thoughts starts to permeate my conscious mind, I will take my hair band which often lives on my wrist for obvious reasons and give it a snap.

That semi-uncomfortable feeling of the snapping hairband is a pattern interrupt; it’s something that my mind is not expecting me to do along the way of continuing or perpetuating a negative thought pattern. Do whatever you need to to interrupt the negative thought process and then take the opportunity to choose a better thought.  

There is however a ‘modus operandi’ to how the pattern interrupt sequence works, and what you need to do first is to identify a pattern of behavior that you’re looking to change. Once you’ve done so you really want to study the process, so you look to see if there any specific triggers that set it off and then what the chain reaction is from there. It’s the chain reaction from A to B. Then what you’re looking to introduce obviously is a pattern interrupt, something completely unexpected that you wouldn’t normally do in that situation. It could be anything like pulling your earlobe, or clucking like a chicken, snapping your hair band; anything that sends that neurological process into a tailspin so you can then replace it with a better thought or a better action, a better process that takes you closer towards where you want to go and further away from where it is that you don’t want to be.

Have fun and good luck developing your new pattern interrupts!

xx Jane