Tracey Cole – A little about why I started in NLP

Posted on April 13, 2023 by Categories: News

People often ask me how I got into NLP and whether it works for me(!). Well, yes, NLP works beautifully for me – here’s a little about me and my journey.


As we passed the Shell garage, I knew this was my trigger. My stomach lurched and I looked at the road ahead. We were less than 5 minutes away now. The traffic was light and we eased the lorry across the roundabout. My ability to speak had gone. My head was full of a thousand ways the show could be cancelled. I went into my daydream. If the show was cancelled, it wouldn’t be my fault. I had made the effort, looked the part and for reasons beyond my control – the weather, let’s say – had forced us to turn around and go home.

I awoke from the daydream as we passed the venue, you could see the outdoor school laden with show-jumps, beautifully multicoloured and waiting for us. My stomach was in knots. My friend said to me, “You know, we actually have the same feelings, I call it excitement and you call it nerves.” I knew which I’d rather be feeling and it wasn’t nerves.

That was very much the format for most of my competing. I’d arrive at the venue, desperate to get my mare off the lorry and get her tacked up (all with fumbling, nervous fingers). Then I’d be warming up, watching the others sail over the jumps smiling. I’d be silently saying to my horse, “Please jump this and take me over with you!”

By the time I was at the gate, ready to go into the arena, I’d have lost ability to think logically, mostly, I’d lost he ability to take my time and enjoy. The anxiety was simply too great. The enjoyment came as they opened the gate for me to exit! If I’d another round to do, I’d feel far better about it now. Often, I jumped the later (and bigger) round significantly better. Then would come the frustration of not being able to start confident or be  at least pleased to be there!

If this resonates with you personally, or you’re thinking about a friend, I can tell you hand on heart that you can rid yourself of anxiety. In some of my last competitions before my mare retired, we were both so laid back, my instructor told me to go into the ring and whizz round before the bell to get us both a bit more fired up!!

So what happened for me to gain more confidence and more enjoyment? I learnt about neurolinguistic programming (NLP). I’d seen various articles on the internet about NLP, but they sounded too god to be true. It wasn’t until I read Pippa Funnell’s autobiography that and I learnt that she’d used NLP for nerves that I decided to look into it more.

I signed up for a Practitioner training in Manchester. The pre-study confirmed that NLP was the right decision for me. I loved the simplicity of the concepts and I began to understand how the unconscious (also known as the subconscious) works.

It was on the training that I was able to eliminate several fears – being watched, making a fool of myself, jumping oxers, being out of control……

I was fairly certain at the start of the training that NLP would be an interesting set of ideas, but that they’d either not work for me at all or I’d see only minor changes. I was amazed that it worked! So much so that I decided to start my own company, because I knew other riders would benefit and riders who weren’t at competing at the highest levels could access this type of sports psychology. I wanted to encourage all equestrians to improve their mindset, because once the mind is on course, then the body will follow!

Mental rehearsal and visualisation boosted by NLPI love coaching – whether a single session (all that most riders need!) or in an on-going series of sessions, but I knew that some people, like me, would be able to work on several areas of their mindset by training in NLP. They would also be professionally qualified and able to take on clients themselves, if they wanted to. In 2016, I became an accredited trainer of NLP, NLP Coaching, Hypnotherapy and an advanced form of NLP known as Time Line Therapy®. Adding in the trainings has been a joy, I have always loved teaching, so this was a natural progression for me. (You can read more about NLP training here.

One of the best kept secrets of mindset is what your anxiety or nerves actually are. You can think in terms of all the biochemistry and neuroscience, but, in a nutshell, these feelings are a warning from your unconscious mind that you’re concentrating on what you don’t want to happen! You’re putting all your attention and energy into the exact scenario you’re most scared of.

The uncomfortable feelings are there to make you sit up and take notice. They’re there to help you snap out of it and focus on the scenario you want.

If you know that your mind is trying to tell (scream at) you to stop giving it an imaginary disastrous outcome, then you’ve made a start in altering your thinking. If you need extra ways to snap out of your though process, NLP can give you lots of fun ways to think yourself confident.

NLP training - is it time to enrol now?My friend was actually right too. Excitement and anxiety are very similar in terms of the biochemistry and physiology inside our bodies. It’s the inner voice we have that distinguishes them. For some people, it’s labelled as anxiety. For others, it’s excitement. Re-labelling the feeling can impact your thinking too. Whilst you might not want to be too excited for some riding disciplines, think of the calm control in dressage; whereas for other disciplines, a little excitement may be required: usually in jumping phases or polo. Being able to use those ‘nerves’ to your advantage is also key to taking advantage of your thinking style.


If you’d like to know more about having an NLP session or training in NLP, why not get in touch? You can book a complimentary chat by clicking here


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Time Line Therapy ®️ for Equestrians

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