A knowledge of the unconscious mind
Rider self-sabotage is unintentional, but very unhelpful(!), yet a knowledge of the mind can enable you to be the rider you know you really are. The unconscious (subconscious) does not adhere to the same rules of logic and analysis as the conscious mind. We often apply logical strategy to a part of the mind that defies logic! The conscious mind, the part of the mind you are using to read this article, to plan your riding goals, to think about what you’d like for tea, is only about 3% of the mind. Crazy, isn’t it? Because that part of the mind seems to think it’s in control! How very untrue! It’s the unconscious which directs our emotions, memories, habits and automatic responses. Hence the need to concentrate on the unconscious mind.
Knowing how the unconscious works can remove self-sabotage; I believe we sabotage ourselves unwittingly, not because our minds are weak or wired up towards doubts and anxieties, but because we need to work with our mind, not unintentionally against it. We can stop that rider self-sabotage!
3 common rider self-sabotage tactics
- Your unconscious mind takes everything very personally. This means, whenever you chat about someone else, your mind thinks you’re talking about yourself. If you are less than kind about others, your unconscious mind thinks you are being mean about it. It takes everything literally. If you watch a rider and wish to be like them, but rather than having that as a healthy aspiration, you have a yearning, or worse still, a jealousy, your mind will think either, “You’re not good,” enough or, “I’ll prevent you from being as good, so that others don’t get jealous or spiteful about you.”
What to do: STOP any gossiping! STOP being less than neutral about others! STOP yearning for the ability (which leads to limiting beliefs)! STOP any envy or jealousy about better riders – learn from them instead!
- The unconscious is so powerful, it will create beliefs before you know it. Suddenly, you doubt yourself or your ability and you resent the feelings of being second best. You may focus on the nerves, the anxieties, the ‘what ifs’. Now, what if I were to tell you that there is a rule of the mind that says, you create what you focus on. It’s becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In spite of want to be less anxious, by thinking about it, you create more of it!
Your unconscious mind does not make the distinction between a good habit and a bad one; it simply creates habits and associations very quickly indeed. Anxiety and doubts become habits.
What to do: STOP focusing on what you don’t want, focus on what you do want! Anxiety is a warning from the unconscious mind that you are focusing on things you want to avoid! If you think the wheelie bins will be a problem on a hack, you have focused so much energy into the wheelie bins, that your horse can easily interpret the sirens and Belisha beacons going off in your mind.
- Your unconscious mind is like a devoted puppy, it loves to please you, but beware, it needs very clear instructions. Is your thinking muddled, conflicted or confused? Are you saying what you don’t want, rather than what you do? Are you saying, “I don’t want to be anxious”? That’s a prime example of saying it negatively! Avoid negatives – the unconscious mind does not understand the word ‘not’ and simply remove it from the sentence, it hears, “I do want to be anxious,”!
What to do: reword what you want, avoid using the word ‘not’ inside your head – you may be asking for the complete opposite of what you want!
Riders see and feel immense differences in their riding when they apply mind techniques such as NLP (neurolinguistic programming) to their riding. You can read more in my book, The Confident Rider Mindset – how to hack your mind for riding success, available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback versions. It’s NLP de-jargonised and make to fit the equestrian mind! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07P73FSP6/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
You can find out more about my NLP trainings here