Boost Your Confidence - There Is Only One Thing You Have To Do!

I read an interesting article on boosting your confidence lately. The author claims that you need to do only one thing - according to a Harvard pyschologist Amy Cuddy, author of "Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges": 

Self-Affirmation

No idea what that is and how it works? Actually, it is pretty easy!

See that loók? Self-doubt right before entering at A
"Before heading into a situation where we may be challenged, we can reduce our anxiety by reaffirming the parts of our authentic best selves we value most." says Cuddy. Instead of fearing of failing when entering at A, you could for example think of another thing that you are really good at.

This concept is based on Claude Steele's self-affirmation theory:

[...] when people’s self-image has been threatened they are motivated to affirm the integrity of the self. Moreover, people have a desire to restore their general self-image, not simply to resolve the specific threat. The unique prediction that self-affirmation theory makes is that people have a strong desire to maintain a positive self-image; therefore, when people experience a specific self-threat, they can overcome the unpleasant arousal associated with the threat by affirming an equally important, yet unrelated, aspect of the self. This can work to restore self-esteem even without resolving the specific threat. Source: encyclopedia.com

That may seem counterintuitive and most of us have experience that overwhelming wave of self-doubt right before entering the arena or still in the warm up. The best thing about this self-affirmation concept is that you do not have to find something challenge related like "I am good at the walk pirouettes", no, it actually does not matter which capability you put into the right light. So instead of thinking what can and will go wrong in our test, we should focus on our capabilities, on our positive sides. Why does this work to reduce the stress of a challenging situation? Because no matter what, those capabilities will remain even if we fail in the test for example.

Experimental investigations of self-affirmation theory suggest that self-affirmation can help individuals cope with threat or stress and that it might be beneficial for improving academic performance, health, and reducing defensiveness. Source: Wikipedia

What you have to do is to find things that you like about yourself. You can say them out loud or write them down. I would suggest to start doing that NOW instead of doing it right before entering at A. In our case, most of the judges commented in the past that we are a beautiful pair (to be fair, most of the time they especially mentioned Hafl's beauty but never mind). So, before entering at A, why not concentrate on the fact that we are a cute pair? That I have a beautiful horse? For sure, the outcome of the test will not have the slightest impact on our cuteness factor or on Hafl's beauty. 

If everything else goes wrong, he will still be Mr Cutie Face

Another self-affirmation could be the special bond that Hafl and I have (of course, I could use whatever positive I can find like my talent of organizing myself, I just wanted to stick to some horse related facts). Again, this fact will remain no matter how threatening the challenge we are facing is.

To me, all those self-affirmations work like a super hero shield. We will still have to ride the test and we will still have to face the judges' comments. But with the right self-affirmation at hand, we can stand the stress of the situation better and fight the doubts that may arise (and believe me, history shows, they will). After all, it is just a dressage test and how lucky are we that there are plenty of things that will still be the same after the a possible negative experience at the show - no matter what.



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