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  • Writer's pictureLM Coaching

Overcoming Fears and Building Confidence...

People often look at me now and struggle to believe me when I say I was that kid, that teenager and even that adult who freaked out when she went below the water, the one who cried when the sea got really rough and windy, the one who was petrified of the unknown on a whitewater river and the one who always feared failure when competing. I was that aspirant leader who lacked confidence in front of a group, I used to get my words all muddled and stand with a bright red face all embarrassed at having to stand up in front of people. There is many people out there who have witnessed it and you can ask them if you don't believe me.

Fear and lack of confidence is not something to be ashamed of, it happens to many of us, but not everyone is good at admitting it, because they fear that people will judge them and treat them differently. It's OK to be nervous, scared or lack confidence, we are only human after all.

So I guess the question everyone is thinking is, why did I choose a career path that scares me like it did? and there's the answer, 'It did', but not anymore. Fear is something we can over come and manage if we want it enough and confidence is something that can be built with the right exposure, so I decided to use my personal experiences to help me help others and I bet I'm not the only provider who's been through similar.

How did I over come Fear?

Finding the reasons or causes of a fear is a good place to start. For me I asked myself some questions, Was there something that happened to cause it? When does the fear peak? Does it change depending on who I'm with? or where I go Paddling? The answers to these helped me understand my fears more.

Once I understood my fears, I was then able to start working with them. I wouldn't say I conquered my fears to start with, but instead I used the negative scary energy to aid my performance. The key thing for me was to focus on my performance and my achievements, and less on trying to do what everyone else was doing. I had to slow things down, take some backwards steps that then allowed me to move forward again, which was supported by a coach who I trusted and who actually believed in me as a paddler. I also learned that when something happened to cause a fear, I had to get back on the horse straight away, because walking away made it twice as hard to come back.

It took some time and lot's of dipping in and out of my comfort zones, slowly but surely (Very Irish I know), but it worked. Understanding how far I could push myself before breaking point was the secret to my progress. I honestly don't believe we ever fully conquer our fears, I think instead we learn to manage them and use them to help us make smarter and more sensible choices.

How did I build confidence?

Lacking in confidence is something I didn't really think about until situations arose where I realised it was a thing. It turns out I haven't been a very confident person ever. Even going back to school when the teacher made your present your project to the class or the class had to take it in turns to read part of the book out loud, I used to get so anxious for when it would be my turn and use every excuse under the sun to try and avoid it, it was usually 'but Miss I really got to go to the toilet' I really hated talking out loud in front of people. Anyway, for me I always hated being singled out and being the centre of attention, in fact I still do, I would get all embarrassed and just want to get away from the situation.

As I grew up and aspired to be a coach and leader in the paddlesport world, I knew my lack of self confidence was going to be the hardest part. I always lacked confidence as a young aspirant leader and coach, it first arose because I always had to work with people older than me, who claimed to have lots of experience etc and made sure we all knew about it and here I was just some young girl with a big dream. As much as it tried hard to put me off, I hung in there, although I probably wouldn't have if my mummy, (my number 1 fan) hadn't of believed in me as much as she did, she was the incentive I needed to crack on and get the job done.

Anyway, it took a couple of coaches who believed in me, to encourage me to step up and take my first leadership assessment. I stalled for a long time believing I wasn't good enough, just because some nasty people had suggested so, but after success on the first one I knew I could do more and it was just about exposing myself to right situations. After many more assessments, much building of experience and hoop jumping, here I am, doing what I do best.

Confidence is only built, by being in a situation where we lack it.

Having experienced both fear and lack of confidence myself I know exactly what it feels like. For me now I use it as my superpower that helps me to understand my clients the way I do. I'm not just here to teach people to paddle, I'm here to help fight and manage fears, I'm here to inspire confidence to each and everyone of the paddlers who comes though a course with LM Coaching.

If your currently fighting fears or lacking confidence, this is my advice:

1) Don't just ignore it, find someone who has shared similar experiences and talk it out.

2) Don't be embarrassed or ashamed of fears, we all have them, they may just not be paddling orientated for some.

3) Paddle with a coach/leader/friend who you trust and inspires you with confidence

4) Expose yourself to your fears, but know your point of no return and avoid getting there until it's no longer scary.

5)Don't give up, don't let your fears over rule something you enjoy, take it back a step if required.

6) If something has happened to scare you, don't walk away, get back on the horse as soon as possible or you never will!

7) Remember not all those who come across confident actually are.

8) Finally if you get stuck and your struggling, get in touch I will support anyone I can.

Remember folks, Confidence is only built, by being in a situation where we lack it and fears are only fought if we fight them.

It's only us who can make changes.

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