Why falling off a bicycle was the best thing that happened to me

cyclingThe answer… It increased my confidence.

To give you some background… There is something about having your feet clipped into pedals that leaves you feeling quite precarious, and since buying my first set of ‘cleats’ a couple of years ago I have been working on getting past my fears around riding a bicycle.  (Of course the riding part is fine, it’s the “what if I fall off” that causes the problem)  So there I was at cycling training with my daughter.  Yes, I am the ONLY adult training with kids, AND guess who’s the biggest scaredy cat!  We were practising skills, specifically ‘track stands” where you are required to bring the bike to a halt and balance on the spot or at least balance while going very slow.  I had watched the kids do it and now it was my turn.  The coach, knowing how scared I was, assured me he would catch me if I fell.  So off I went.  Initially things looked promising.  Then I started to lose balance ….. I couldn’t unclip from the pedal in time …. And down I went!  No time for the coach to catch me. (Lucy helpfully told me later that I was probably too heavy for the coach to catch anyway.  Hmm…)  The result?  A rather nasty graze on my knee, bruised dignity and a little shaken, otherwise all good!knee-graze

The next week, there I was at training again.  I assumed that I would be even more fearful than before, but to my surprise I actually felt more confident!  That week I made a few good attempts at achieving a track stand, and confidently rode faster than I had before.  How could this be?  Simple!  My fear, “what if I fall?” had been realised.  I had fallen off and the consequence wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.

In her book “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” Susan Jeffers suggests that rather than allowing your “what if…” to stop you from doing something, address it.  That means that you actually ask “what if…?” what if your worst fear is realised?  Then answer yourself.  That way you can come up with strategies to avoid it happening, or if it does happen to minimise the consequences or to start planning what you will do in response.

In my case addressing “What if I fall?” meant:

  • I reduced the risk by asking the coach to try to catch me
  • Realistically I would be going slow so having a major injury was highly unlikely
  • I had already been told that if you fall while your feet are clipped into pedals don’t put your arm out to save yourself, rather tuck your elbow and shoulder in so you roll. Following this advice also minimised injury.
  • Maybe falling is part of learning.

This process is simple and powerful.  Imagine, rather than allowing your fears to stop you achieving your goals and dreams, you use them to help you meet and exceed your goals and dreams.  This process allows you to move forward with your life decisively and courageously.

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