Those dreaded nerves and how to overcome them
Last week I had the perfect opportunity to put into practise all the techniques I teach others. Over the last few months I've been learning to ride a motorbike, I've wanted to do it for ages and now I've plucked up the courage to go for it. Last Tuesday was the first part of my test.
So what makes you nervous? An important meeting, an interview, a test, an exam or an appointment, whatever it is I'm sure you go through the same process as me......
During my lessons I'd never mastered the whole thing from start to finish, at some part I was rubbish and it was never the same bit. So frustrating and my nerves were really starting to kick in.
You know the feeling, my mind filled with all the reasons why I couldn't do it. Visions of me making a fool of myself in front of my test instructor. Then came the reasons why learning to ride the bike was important to me, how good it would feel if I passed but that just added to the pressure. My body filled with energy, my hands started sweating and my head was racing. On the night of my last lesson I couldn't sleep, tossing and turning all night. Nerves had kicked in and I didn't like it. Sound familiar?
So I decided to practise the techniques I teach. The great thing about these is that you can do them yourself. Here's what I did:
First I took some lovely deep breaths, focusing on breathing in refreshing air and breathing out all those worries. This started to calm me down.
Then onto correcting my thinking, at some point I had done all the elements correctly which meant I could do them all. I forced myself to mentally walk through all of the test in detail focusing on doing everything correctly. I did this over and over again. This gives your brain positive evidence and also trains the muscles to do well. Research has shown that the body responds the same no matter if you're really doing it or just imagining it. Doing it well over and over helps boost the feeling that you can do it and trains the mind and body how to do it.
Now onto the language, all the 'I can't' stuff really wasn't helping. So I decided on some statements I wanted to reinforce in order to focus on what I had to do rather than what I didn't want to do. Here are the three statements I chose:
- I can do it
- Aim for the gap (knocking down a cone was an instant fail)
- I am calm and balanced.
I said these statements to myself over and over. When a niggling thought slipped in I replaced it with one or all of these.
Test day arrived
I slept really well the night before and woke feeling good. I still felt a little nervous but a little is always good, I decided to call this feeling excitement.
I got to the test centre and when I first sat on the bike at the beginning of the test I took one of those lovely deep breaths and said my three statements to myself.
The outcome: I passed!!!!!
The feeling really was great but not one of elation because by that point I kind of knew I could do it so it was no surprise. All that practising mentally and positive words gave me a feeling that it was the obvious outcome. Although that didn't stop me smiling all day.
So here are the steps I used again:
Step 1 - Deep relaxing breaths
Step 2 - Correct your thinking and rehearse it mentally going well.
Step 3 - Positive statements to reinforce what you want.
Go on give it a go and leave a comment below letting me know how you got on taking control of those nerves.
Until next time