If you feel like your stress and anxiety are holding you back from achieving more on your motorbike, stay tuned because I will tell you my three simple tricks that have helped me overcome anxiety and ride further.
Hey Sprocketeers, welcome back to the blog. My name is Saffy Sprocket, and today we will talk about something a little different. It’s a topic that more and more of you have been approaching me about lately, particularly at the London show, and a common conversational topic usually has gone a little bit like this:
“How do you do it? How do you charge straight in, try new things, and not be scared.”
And my answer is always usually the same response, “I am terrified, about 99% of the time. The one per cent that I’m not scared, it’s most likely because my brain just hasn’t caught up with the adrenaline rush”, and I’d stand there a little bit like a lemon, wondering how I can inspire and motivate people to push past the fear. Still, ultimately, I realised I didn’t understand either.
I’ve previously made a video about overcoming fear regarding solo motorcycle touring, which you can find on my channel. However, this video is slightly different because rather than focusing on practical steps for travelling, it’s more about mindset and overcoming the fear holding you back.
What is Fear?
At some point in our lives, we have experienced fear or anxiety. There’s the physical sensation where your heart is pounding against your chest, the cold sweat that rushes down your limbs, and your mind is running at 200mph, and the mental gymnastics when your thoughts run too fast and yet paralyse you from pushing on.
Now imagine that experience of fear, running concurrently alongside a thought pattern that wants to succeed and accomplish more. Suddenly you are caught at the crossroads of an internal conflict, and only one side will win, but how do you let your courageous side take control?
Tactic 1: The power of language
You’ve probably heard the term positive self-talk, and if you’re anything like me, your reaction will most likely be an eye roll. I’m going to be honest with you, when people start to talk about the power of language, I can’t help but tune it out. I’ve always considered myself too pragmatic for such ideas; however, I am a big fat hypocrite and an ignorant one at that too.
Self-talk is just the internal dialogue we have all day. These thoughts can be positive or negative. However, repeatedly telling yourself positive things or encouraging phrases repeatedly, even if you don’t honestly believe what you are saying, is incredibly effective.
It can instantly reduce your stress levels, improve your esteem, and even reduce any physical pain you experience. Until I started filming YouTube videos, I was utterly ignorant of the fact that I talk to myself whenever I’m starting to struggle with a task. However, I’ve spent hours upon hours editing my own videos and really started to get to know myself and my crazy habits. What I’ve come to realise is that indulgence is positive self-talk a lot, and I mean a lot. Let’s take a look.
Until I started making videos, I believed positive self-talk wasn’t practical. However, it’s not that it wasn’t practical; I never recognised that I did it, so I was ignorant of its positive effect on my confidence.
Whenever I’ve faced an issue or a challenge on the road, I’m not a professional; I’m not that experienced, I get scared, and I get worried. You can always tell when I feel a little bit scared because I’ll default back to positive self-talk, telling myself I can do this; in different scary situations, I’ll repeat positive phrases repeatedly to get through the moment.
And don’t get me wrong, at the moment, I do not believe a single thing that is coming out of my mouth. But for some reason, telling myself I can do it, that it’s easy, that it’s just a bike, or it’s just a hill. Somehow it works.
And sure, as your ride up a hill, chanting I’m FINE over and over, you MIGHT look like a lunatic, but you know what, F*ck it.
Tactic 2: Illeism, also known as distances self-talk
Now that you have a list of positive phrases you can yell at yourself, we will talk about distance talking. This was something I researched after watching my footage back.
You see, whenever I was riding along, vlogging my travels, approaching a difficult task, or undergoing something that made me feel emotional, I noticed my speech patterns would vary slightly.
I meant that my brain automatically switched to a third-person speech pattern, and I would talk to myself as if I were talking to someone else. This was something I had never noticed before, let alone researched.
It turns out it’s a somewhat known emotional regulation tactic. When a person is stressed or nervous, it could be taking her first bike test or solo ride; it’s really easy to focus on what is happening inside us. That means focusing on all the negative emotions and projecting those onto the outside world. We lose the ability to take the bigger picture of what’s happening.
However, starting to refer to yourself from a third-person perspective allows you to think about your experience from a distanced perspective. It’s the mental ability to take a step back. If you linguistically distanced yourself, I guarantee you will get some relief when faced with any challenge.
Tactic 3: Practice & self-kindness
The next time you’re faced with any biking challenge, it might be easy to forget to encourage yourself when you’re about to roll off a hill or slide in the mud potentially. That’s because good habits take time to build, so you don’t want to start waiting until you need the skills to start using them. Start practising straight away, in circumstances that you don’t need it. Start with a route you know; maybe it’s to a nearby café or a nearby road you’re familiar with, do a route you are familiar with, except this time, start talking to yourself and start building those habits early on.
If it’s the case that you have a bigger goal you want to achieve, like maybe solo camping, start small, like camping in a nearby campsite, then try again further and further away each time. Make sure to keep encouraging yourself throughout every step of your progress. Before you know it, you’ll be cruising through the wilderness, and the fear you had will be a distant memory of your youth.
However, if you want to do it, remember the moment you start to indulge in negative thinking, you will start taking a step back. So be kind to yourself. One day you’ll be an old wrinkly weirdo in their 90s looking back at who you are now with the same fondness that you currently look back at your childhood.
And there we have it, folks, yell at yourself in the third person repeatedly until everyone thinks you are insane, and you, too, will be an accomplished lunatic like me.
In the meantime, ride safe and stay crazy, my name is Saffy Sprocket, and I’ll see you next week.