We all know self-confidence is one of the most important mental skills you need on the horse. You can train as much as you like, but if you don’t believe you are good enough or that you can win classes, you probably won’t. Instead of waiting until the results come in to give you a reason to be confident, take action and become the most confident version of yourself to create the results you desire. Here are 5 steps to help you boost your confidence.
1. Step into the most confident version of yourself.
Have you ever noticed how after watching an action movie or empowering video you feel more inspired, excited and perhaps more confident? That is because self-confidence is largely influenced by your physical state. So when you change your physical state, you can change the way you feel and even think. You can step into the most confident version of yourself by taking on a confident body posture. Just remember, chin up, chest out and shoulders back.
2. Be authentic.
Notice how I mentioned “step into the most confident version of yourself”, not someone else’s. Though it is very important to learn from others, make sure you always find your own self-confidence. You can do this by thinking back to a moment you were feeling very proud, confident or accomplished. Really let that moment sink in. Act as if you are back re-living that situation: feel what you felt then, see what you saw then, and hear what you heard then. Now let that feeling of confidence and joy grow within your body, and let it expand until it fills you up completely.
3. Plan backward.
Looking up at your long term goals can make you feel small and like you are still so far away from where you want to be. You might think, once I reach that goal or once I win that championship, then I will feel confident about myself and my journey. Though it is very important to have long-term dreams and goals, it will be a lot more helpful to know what you need to focus on in order to get there. So set your ultimate goals, which are your most exciting dreams. Also have clear results-oriented goals for the season, the goals you would like to achieve this year. But then, most importantly, set process-oriented goals that are completely within your control and that help you focus while at a show. For example: “keeping a steady forward rhythm” or “keeping your upper-body back on the jump”. Anything that will help you improve and focus on the process.
4. Let go of expectations.
Similarly, having high expectations can have a negative impact on your self-confidence. If you are not sure whether you set too high expectations, notice if you feel disappointed or distracted as soon as you have one down on course. If so, you probably set expectations that are not helping you. Instead, remind yourself before you get on why you do what you do. Expecting to win or to be clear every weekend is a recipe for disappointment. So compete to improve yourself, connect with your horse and enjoy the ride.
5. Stop taking action from a place of fear.
Competing every weekend, working hard every day and perhaps sacrificing a social life can result in you becoming obsessed about reaching a certain place or achieving certain results. You get caught up in every day work and forget why you started riding in the first place. You become more and more scared that you won’t be good enough and that you will feel disappointed again when the results don’t come in this weekend. If you recognize yourself in this, stop fighting. Let go of the limiting belief that you are not good enough and start reminding yourself of what you love about what you do.
When I asked professional riders the question, “Where do you get your motivation from?” most of them answered, from their love for horses and the excitement of feeling a horse improve! Focus on what you love and you will automatically be more confident.
Photo by Kaitlyn Karssen.