Feel The Fear (And Do It Anyway)
The title of this post comes from a book that I haven’t read, so if it’s a pile of horse-shit then I apologise. But as a sentiment, I like the title and it kind of sums up the way I live my life. So if you want to drop in on your BMX, hit those dirt jumps, race Enduro, ride DH or enter your first road race, then read on.
I wrote a post a while ago that attempted to debunk the myth of lucky and help you realise that your life is in your own hands, rather than those of the gods. This piece is in some ways a natural extension of that one, as it deals with how to do the things you secretly want to do, many of which happen to be the things you’re envious of other people doing. The point I’m clumsily getting to in referring to the other article is that you shouldn’t attribute everyone else’s seemingly wonderful lives or fantastic skills to good luck alone, as that makes you feel like you can’t have the same. And you can.
As this is a cycling blog, lets pull things back to bikes, because they’re what’s really important. You can use these tips and this advice in other areas of your life, but let’s begin by trying to answer a question I’m often asked – how to overcome fear in a cycling or sport context.
I ride all kinds of bikes and do all kinds of silly things on them, from jumping gaps on my BMX, racing through rock gardens on my mountain bike and speeding round the velodrome in extremely close proximity to others on my track bike. So unsurprisingly some people think I’m totally fearless, which is so very far from the truth. In fact I am so extremely sensitive to nerves I basically ditched my pro-snowboarding career because I got psyched out by competitions.
Since those days of dreadful panic, I’ve figured out a few techniques that help you to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway,’ and get over whatever is holding you back from dropping in at the skatepark, attempting that trick you’ve never done before or entering your first race. I hope they help.
Just do it before you have time to think about it.
The first tip sounds silly, but it’s one of my favourites. Before you’ve given your brain the chance to process what you’re thinking of doing, just drop in and go for it. Before your thinking has caught up with what’s going on, you’ll have done it.
Count yourself in and when you reach one, just go. The more you use this technique, the easier it gets.
If you have stopped to think about what you’re doing, try playing your trick/endeavour through in your mind and seeing yourself successfully nailing it. It can be hard at first not to visualise disaster but the more you practice this technique, the easier it becomes, just like with the other one. The brain can be trained, just like your body can be.
Give Yourself Three Attempts
Give yourself three chances to try going for whatever it is… eg. Hopping onto a rail. Tell yourself that three tries are all you’re allowed, and if you don’t attempt it within that limit, you have to go home. It’s a bit harsh, but it kind of works!
Imagine How Good You’ll Feel.
This is my favourite one. Imagine how you’ll feel after you’ve tried it. You’ll be so stoked and proud of yourself. Imagine how you’ll feel if you don’t even try… If you’re anything like me you’ll be really agitated and annoyed!
Rebrand Your Nerves.
You know that twisty turny knot of anguish you get in the pit of your stomach, or the horrible fluttering butterflies you feel in your gut. That’s excitement, not nerves. Keep telling yourself that!
Be The Best Version Of You You Can Be.
Sorry to end up on a cheesy one, but do you want to go through life averaging a five when you have it in you to be a ten? If you don’t care, then this post isn’t for you, but imagine the endless possibilities and opportunities there for you and visualize where you could be if you properly made the most of them. Then go for it!
And to finish, one last tip: Be sure to feel proud of yourself for trying – don’t just base your feelings of achievement on whether or not you’ve landed your trick, won your race or whatever. Having the guts to take a chance and try something new is good enough, and a big step forwards from just not trying at all.
So make sure you’re kind to yourself, give yourself a pat on the back and take the time to have a little think about all the stuff you’re good at, rather than the things you find tough. This might sound silly, but when I’m doing quite badly in a race and comparing myself to other people (which it’s better not to do, but I find it hard not to) I like to think to myself:
“Well I might be slow in this race, but I can do a 720 on a snowboard and air a quarter on my BMX. I bet the winner can’t do that!’