For this week’s tip I’d like to share with you how to develop your self confidence. Many riders aren’t pursuing objectives out there because of self limiting beliefs and their fear of the judgment, defeat and embarrassment.
Self confidence is not something that you inherently have or don’t have! Self confidence has nothing to do with talent. Many of my students in clinics think that self confidence comes from the achievements and basically having proven that we are good at riding having achieved a certain level or earned certain awards. But I want you to consider that many riders don’t pursue things in the future or don’t set challenging objectives for themselves because they don’t yet have the experience to be good at riding at a certain level. But how can you reach that level if you don’t even attempt to try things you haven’t done before?
Self confidence doesn’t come from experience nor talent, but comes from our willingness to experience vulnerability. It comes from our willingness to experience judgment from other people, failure and embarrassment at a show, at a clinic or at your barn. We are worried ahead of time about the emotion on the other side of that attempt, we don’t even want to try because we don’t want to feel such negative emotions.
I made a shift in my life by applying the following process: instead of avoiding feelings of failure or embarrassment ahead of time, preventing me to put myself out there at a show, a championship, a symposium or even posting a video of myself on social media and exposing myself to critics...I rehearsed ahead of time what I would feel if I would fail and actually be embarrassed. Having a bad score, a bad ride, having people criticizing your riding, or even worse: your horse, are things that will happen to any rider at any level. What hurts and holds you back is only what you make it mean for yourself. The fact of getting a bad score at a show is harmless, the only thing that makes it painful is what you make it mean.
By rehearsing the worse that can happen in any given situation, in my mind, I realized that what I was actually afraid of is the judgment from other people of me making that attempt and miserably failing. But what I also noticed is that none of those people really matter in my life. None of those people truly support me, and genuinely care about me. None of those people we are anticipating judging us are true friends, mentors or family.
The secret to develop more self confidence and allowing yourself to grow and chase your dreams as a rider is to stop anticipating opinions of people that don’t matter to you, and more importantly starting to have your own back. We are terrible support to ourselves! We actually are the first ones to beat ourselves up for a failed attempt. The key is to develop the willingness to have your own support. Regardless of what happens to me at a show, a symposium, a clinic, I don't make it reflect bad on myself as a rider or a trainer, I create a soft landing for myself. Even if I fail miserably, I only make it mean that I tried my best and that I will get back up. The same way, I will never be disappointed in a student putting himself or herself out there trying and failing. They have to go through the process of failure and defeat to build their own self confidence, get out of their comfort zone and grow as a rider. Self confidence is not a talent, it is something you can create in your mind to fuel your journey towards whatever success you envision for yourself.
USDF Gold, Gold Bar, Silver & Bronze Medalist
Vincent Flores Dressage, LLC
Photo credit: Kevin Hadfield