Coaching Notes from the Field:
"I can’t lie to myself," my client said to me as I tried to get her to celebrate her blue ribbons. "I call a spade a spade!"
What was HER "reality?" She firmly believed that she didn't REALLY deserve those ribbons. Why did she believe that? (Wait for it ...)
And then the list came pouring out, supposedly reinforced by her trainer (this was how she "heard" the trainer's feedback); it wasn't her best ride, it wasn't perfect, she made mistakes, she's ridden better, it was a gift (determined by the luck of what better riders didn't show up that day), it was because the class was a California split, it was an averaging out of the class, etc.
By the time she was through, the bottom line was, it was pure luck. She had evaporated all the good things that she did into thin air. It was just a gift, really? Why, because the judge was in a good mood? Let me see if I can understand this; so because you didn't ride the course perfectly, it now had nothing to do with you showing up and riding well in the ring? It only counts if you ride a course absolutely perfectly?
My perfectionist clients have a hard time giving themselves credit for anything. They think this "being a perfectionist identity" will make them perfectly error-proof in the future, but the truth is, it is tripping them up and holding them hostage.
Discounting what you DID do right, beating yourself up over mistakes, and refusing to own and celebrate your wins, is programming your brain to believe that you are not good enough; that no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do right, winning is not under your control. And it is a disappointing, painful state of mind. (So why try so hard?)
And our brain may even take it further into NOT wanting to win. This is called sabotaging ourselves. Our brains are protecting us and helping us to run away from the future pain.
Why would your brain interpret it that way? Because your brain is like a computer and those are the wrong codes to program into it. The brain knows that perfection is not possible (there's always something wrong ... even a strand of hair out of place, a slight wrinkle in your attire, or not the MOST PERFECT smile on your face in an otherwise perfect performance). So the brain can't help you to achieve what is not possible. Your codes for thinking have actually short-circuited the brain!
Did my client feel empowered and in control of her destiny with this kind of thinking? Did she feel good about herself after her insistence to "not lie to herself?" Yes and no.
Yes because at least she was being "honest" with herself and "based in reality." She placed a high value on integrity. But did she feel good about her win, her skills, and what she DID execute correctly?
NO! Because she had discounted all that into thin air! It evaporated into a lucky gift! OK, so let's give the ribbon back, right? Walk up to the judge and say, "Thanks, but I didn't deserve this and there is nothing you can say that would convince me otherwise."
Because that is what she kept saying to me! She had drawn a line in the sand! She didn't REALLY deserve that win and refused to celebrate her win. (Here comes the spade is a spade/all or nothing thinking.)
And it gets even more complicated than that ... because unconsciously, she was also staying true to her rules. (Unconsciously, of course.) She has this rule from how she was raised that you don't boast about your wins. Her rule was that it was not good to brag about yourself. OK, so she and I are from the same "before social media generation" that did not believe in boasting about and self-branding everything you do.
So as I continued to "unravel the onion", the plot thickened with even more "stuff" that I uncovered about her past that had wired her brain to short circuit even more. In fact, she had a whole "story" that she was being held hostage by.
Listen, if you want to program your brain for success, you HAVE to become good at "lying to yourself." Take out the word "lying" and switch it to "believing" or "having faith." What if you "owned" your successes that day and affirmed to yourself that you were an equestrian rockstar?
Sounds crazy? Yeah, crazy as a fox! Because the more you "lie" to your brain (programming it with the correct code words)", the more it will function as exactly that!
"We will always remain consistent with who we believe ourselves to be." This is a powerful quote from my trainer, Tony Robbins, at his peak performance coach training school.
So, how do you step into believing you are someone that (at least initially) you don't believe that you REALLY are? Tell yourself a lie. Yup! Become an actor! Step into the role! Read the script (self-talk), think like that equestrian, act like that equestrian, practice like that equestrian, celebrate ANY strides in the right direction ... I have a LONG list of how to step into and own the New You! Easy strides that anyone can do one stride at a time.
If you REALLY like the idea of not lying to yourself and staying "based in reality," then stop lying to yourself about the "fact" and "reality" that making mistakes equals not deserving a ribbon, not being a good enough rider and not a reason to celebrate.
Stop lying to yourself with all of your limiting beliefs about yourself and even about life! No, life is not ____ (fill in the blank). For her, it was "a crapshoot that you have NO control over actually winning!) Yup, that was an unconscious belief too!
If you really want to become a high-performing equestrian with your riding and in all areas of your life, you need to know when to "lie to yourself" (Act As If) and when to perceive YOUR "reality" in a different way. Being rigid in your thinking is holding you back. You have to be able to quickly adjust just like you have to in the riding ring. You need to learn to examine what's driving your thoughts and behavior and to be open to tweaking them.
Want to find out what's REALLY driving you; what is holding you back from peak performance and what will propel you forward into achieving your goals?
Want to rewire your brain for success instead of for sabotage or just forever remaining less than your personal best? Want to feel empowered by your mistakes instead of beating yourself up? Want to believe that you can be an equestrian rockstar and then ride like one? Call me to schedule a free coaching session at 1-561-866-0402.
My coaching goes way beyond the basic sports psychology. I get to "your story," the core beliefs, values, rules, and identities that are REALLY driving you and then I shift all that with powerful, unique strategies.
Equestrian Mindset Coach & Resilience Trainer
Certified Strategic Interventionist