MyMind Ambassador Brendan Doyle shares his experience of fear and self-doubt and offers advice on how to overcome the negative voices in your head telling saying you can’t do it.
So the title of this article may be a little ambiguous, but I think once I share my experience with you, it may be a little clearer.
Being a skeleton slider, I used to find myself fighting the inner voices telling me to stay in my comfort zone. I would be standing at the top of the track, sled in my hands, hearing the ticking of the clock for the slider who is on the ice, just waiting for my name to be called and that green light to turn on.
All the while I’ve this small voice in the back of my mind telling me to drag your toes around a bend, its slower, and you won’t take the hit on the exit.
Through practice, I’ve learnt how to drown out this voice, but there are times when you’re either in a position you REALLY don’t want to be in, or at a new track and you’re not quite sure what’s what, and the nerves can really start to take over.
This happened to me when I was at the 2010 Winter Olympic track in Whistler B.C (Canada). This is the fastest track in the world with top speeds of 145kph+ and with pressure as much as 6G’s pushing down on my head, it’s very challenging and can be a painful experience.
I normally learn a track at its true speed, straight to the top from Day 1, as opposed to working your way up for lower starts. At Whistler it’s different. The track management will not let you start from the top, so you need to complete runs from turn 3 (you still hit 125-130kph from here) and only after successfully sliding from there can you progress to the top.
Having studied my track notes, and completed hundreds of mind runs (closing your eyes and visualising going down the track), my first run was a blur, the coroners ripping by me, one after another. I was lost in the track, but I stayed relaxed and focused on form, and moved with the track.
As I progressed during the week, it clicked with me that I was working too hard on the sled, fighting for the perfect line, fighting for the absolute optimal race line. What I figured out was it didn’t matter where I was on the track, no matter how late into the corner I was, or how far off the “correct” entrance/ exit I found myself – there was always a way to fix it.
This translates to real life in a way I wasn’t expecting. One night my coach and I were reviewing the video of my training, and he said I was fighting too much to get across (for the “correct” entrance), and I need to deal with the line I’ve taken as opposed to the line I want. Keeping my focus on where I am instead of thinking I should be over there, allowed me to deal with the issue and effectively making the mistake less of an issue.
“Trust the line” he said. Once I put the steer in, I’ve committed to the outcome, and no amount of fighting or struggling is going to change that. From the day on it just clicked with me, I needed to be more trusting in myself. There were times I found myself in positions where I felt I was going to crash, but I trusted my gut, trusted my line, and just let it go.
Life has so many moving parts, moving parts which to anyone can seem daunting and overwhelming. For people dealing with anxiety or depression, this is all so overwhelming. These voices in your head, making you second guess everything you do. Over thinking every single outcome in the FEAR that you make the wrong decision.
Personally, in the past I let life go by because I was busy thinking “should I?” “can I?” or “what if?” and I never trusted myself. There is no shame in making mistakes, there is no shame in being afraid but don’t let the fear dictate who you are and the chances you take in life.
After all, fear is
Being the month that’s in it, there are added pressures. Family, friends, presents, work, parties, and the financial balancing act which comes with this time of year. This can be so overwhelming for the strongest of us, but pressure is a part of life, it’s something we will all come across, and just like when I’m laying on my sled hitting motorway speeds, I can use the pressure to my advantage.
We all tackle pressure during the year, but it can seem like during December things get much tougher. Remind yourself of your strengths, the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned from them. Remind yourself that during the past year you’ve handled what life has thrown at you, and you made it to another December.
Instead of letting the added pressure get you down, celebrate that you’re here, that you’ve continued battling, growing, learning and remember you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.
So just trust the process, trust your gut and trust your line.