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Daniel Stewart Question & Tip of the Month

Posted
Mon, 2012-10-01 16:36
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Question of the Month

Kathy asks "I went to a show and a certain rider showed up and it ruined my whole ride.  I did not even speak to her, I just had to see her.  What makes me do this?"  

What you are experiencing is something called "performance intimidation."  Riding while intimidated can cause you to become distracted and doubt your ability.  It often occurs in the presence of opponents but can also be caused by spouses, parents, friends, former trainers, etc.  For this reason, it is often called the "significant other" effect - you ride well when you are alone but struggle to focus when a significant other appears.  

Normal intimidation is called "purposeful intimidation" because a person sets out to purposely intimidate another.  Performance intimidation works differently because it does not come from someone else but from within yourself.  This kind of intimidation is called "self-intimidation" because it occurs when you intimidate yourself by focusing on others. There can be many different causes including perfectionism (e.g. when a rider feels that competing against a strong competitor will decrease their chance of being perfect) and fear of failure (e.g. when a rider is afraid they'll ride poorly in front of family members).  Other causes include: 

  • Comparing your skills, talent, successes and/or experiences to others
  • Focusing on the reputation of other riders and/or their horses
  • Recalling negative past memories that include other riders
  • Thinking of past, present or future placings: "They always beat me!"

When it comes to feeling intimidated, always remember to... 

BE YOURSELF... EVERYONE ELSE IS ALREADY TAKEN

 

Tip of the Month

Overcoming Self-Intimidation  

The most common technique to overcome "self-intimidation" is something called thought-substitution, changing your thoughts from "what others might have done" to thoughts of "what you can do."  One way to do this is to make a list of all your strengths and talents and then remind yourself of this list when you begin to feel intimidated.  Another suggestion when it come to overcoming self-intimidation is to always remember to focus on the present (what you can do right now to succeed) rather than on the past (what others might have done to you before) or the future (what others might do to you later, like placing in front of you).  Here are a few other suggestions:

  • Repeat a motivating motto like "Do your best and forget the rest."
  • Design a motivating logo like UP2U (your success is "up to you").
  • Recall a motivating memory of when you stayed focused and rode well.
  • Develop an honest desire to want to compete against the best.  It is one of the surest ways to go from being a good rider to being a great one!

When it comes to feeling intimidated, the best advise anyone can give you is to:

DO YOUR BEST AND FORGET THE REST

To submit a question or sign up for equestrian sports psychologist Daniel Stewart's newsletter, visit www.stewartclinics.com

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