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Keeping Up: Stop Pressuring Yourself


While I rationally understand that my husband is a better rider than I am, simply because he has a lot more years and experience under his belt, I still feel that I must be able to keep up with him riding off road, and be just as good on curvy roads. How do I deal with this?

– Jess


Dear Jess,

I remember the pressure I put on myself when I was first getting into motorcycles. Initially it was ‘why was I on the back and not riding on my own?’ Then it became ‘why am I nervous doing things my husband is doing?’ I see myself as competent, and being reminded that I am not at the level of my partner is frustrating and internally embarrassing.

The list of judgments is endless if we focus on comparisons, whether against our partners or our friends. It’s even more annoying when the pressure isn’t external but coming from our own expectations of ourselves. To get free of the trap it’s helpful to break this issue into three separate skills in order to figure out what’s happening, and therefore where you need to concentrate your efforts.

The first skill is competence. Do you actually have the ability to perform in the way you are expecting yourself to perform? Do you need to take more classes or give yourself more time to improve on what you already know? While this is a ‘rational’ conversation, it is also a reasonable one to be having with yourself to make sure the demands you are placing on yourself are realistic.

The second skill is confidence. If you know you can do it, what’s getting in the way? Is it time to push your envelope, building confidence in your abilities in the process? If the answer is maybe, then test it out. Take a step outside your comfort zone and notice what happens. Was it fun? Did you handle it okay? Can you see yourself riding in this fashion now that you’ve experienced it?

The third skill isvoice. Make sure you aren’t being pressured in real or subtle ways to ride in a manner you aren’t comfortable with, in which case you need to call out those applying the pressure. If the judgment is internal, then forgiving yourself for not being ready to keep up with their pace, and accepting that you’ll catch up when they stop for a break is your best option;softening the critical voice may be the skill you need to develop.

The ideal balance is accepting your frustrations while using them as powerful motivators to keep improving your riding skills. By focusing on your strengths, continuing to grow your practical skills, quieting the nagging voice, and building your confidence you’ll soon be tackling the dirt and corners with the best of them.

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