We all have it, right? To one degree or another, whether we admit it or not, we all suffer at the hands of doubt. Doubt is usually accompanied by its close friend fear.
When I mention doubt, what am I talking about? It’s a very good habit for an athlete to look at doubt when it comes, and what form it comes in. The thoughts and reactions in the body triggered by doubt. To see how doubt affects you, and to see how those effects could be blocking and holding you back from being your natural powerful self.
Have you ever noticed doubt creep in at the start of a race? If you were to look a little closer at what was happening, you would see that doubt closes down your sense of ground, quickly leading to fear. In essence what we are talking about is a shutdown within yourself, and this mostly occurs when we are feeling pressured. A certain level of questioning yourself is natural, but there is a big difference between questioning and doubt. Questioning is open but doubt is cynicism, and often leads to fear of not being good enough.
A shutdown within yourself has very destructive effects, not only athletically but also personally, often leading to feelings of self-hatred. Hatred works against us, leading to self-sabotage, and is often unconscious. Self-hatred is nothing but doubt divorced from self.
When we spiral into this cycle of doubt more often then not we tend to go into fear, as it is never far behind. But the only thing more uncomfortable than fear, is the fear of the fear. Get comfortable with fear. Allow it to be – don’t cut it off when it comes. As I’ve said in other articles avoidance of fear only helps it to grow. Sometimes a little inner dialogue can help here, try asking yourself a simple question: What evidence do I have for my fears? Keep in mind that fear only exists in the future or the past, but never exists in the present moment, especially when you are racing. Have you ever noticed how the fear just disappears once you are out there on the race course?
Doubt kills positivity, be discerning but free of doubt – there’s a big difference. In times of doubt, fear and stress, its important to stay present in the body. Being present within your body means to sense your feet on the ground, and when practiced this will help you to keep focus on the present moment and what you are doing right now.
If you really tune into your body when in fear and doubt, you will often find that you have lost the sense of your body. Its almost as though you are outside of your body, which is not an ideal place to be right before a race.
So what can you do when it comes? Simply slow yourself down, pay attention to your feet and legs, ask yourself some simple questions:
Can I feel the ground as I walk?
Can I sense the density in my legs?
Can I feel my body?
These simple sensing exercises that take virtually no effort will reconnect you with your body. Not only that, what you will find is that as you sense into your body, your mind will back out and leave you far more focused and calm.
The mind is not an ally in situations like this. Put quite simply, if you can learn not to take your mind so seriously, it can be the greatest act of taking back your own power. When you have awareness you are directly connected to the power that you already naturally possess.