XLBiking MTB - Diary of a beginner. Listen to yourself.

Uppdaterat: 2 feb.

We cyclists often reason with our own inner voices. Our mind world suffers the influence of information, daily happenings, and of our relationships. Some us are under constant pressure to perform at high levels at the expense of our self-esteem.

VÄSTERÅS, 2021-05-25

Performance anxiety, self-confidence and self-esteem

The day has just begun, we get a quick breakfast going, drink some coffee, and jump into the usual routine. All feels fine and structured like the everyday life we're used to. Our inner voices seem a bit silent, not saying much, or perhaps we're not listening. After all we know the drill, what we need to do, where we need to go, and now we're taking the practical and concrete steps to get there (read: "I don't have time for any mindfuck now, I've gotta roll and get busy). Life's noise begins to wake some other voices up. Performance anxiety is one of them, it elbows itself forward, knocks our self-confidence and wants to give our self-esteem a run for its money! The day has just started.

Danish author and therapist, Jesper Juul, states the following about self-confidence and self-esteem:

"Self-confidence is connected to our abilities and performance, that which we can do and do well. Self-esteem resides in a different realm. It is intertwined with who we are and how we relate to it. Our self-confidence has a natural connection with our performance, both of them thrive on the praises of others for what we have accomplished. It is always nice to be rewarded, get prizes, medals, recognition, kudos and likes. Strava, Zwift, Instagram and the like know this very well, and are experts in keeping us in their platforms. In fact such praises and small nuggets strengthen our self-confidence. One just needs to be careful not to become addicted to them, since they do very little four our self-esteem. Our self-esteem is strengthened when we are seen, heard and understood as the persons we are, and when we receive detailed and nuanced feedback about ourselves. It is an existential phenomena which wants to know not only that we "did great" but also why, how, and so forth. Perhaps it explains why high performance people like athletes, actors, singers often struggle with their self-esteem even thoug they seem to be moutains of self-confidence. Performance anxiety creeps in at once!

Carrot and stick

Some people think that what humans need to function properly are carrot and stick relationships, let it be in the workplace, home, training or other areas of life. This is a mechanism of reward and punishment which can lead to irreparrable damage to one's self-esteem. The danger lies in the fact that it often works! As humans we do have an instinctive side which can be harnessed to produce the desired output with the right amount of input and manipulation. Carrot and stick "practicioners" have often reduced a person to an animal in their minds, and seldom see the individual only performance levels. Radical users of such method have no consideration for the balance between self-confidence and self-esteem, and tend to classify people as "functioning" or "not functioning". Variations in function as autism, adhd, or anything they perceive as deviating from the pseudoscientifical BMI or "normal" curves are regarded as highly undesirable. Forget the individual, to keep the machines working we don't need existential values, only the right methods, right diets, praises, a few parties and prize cerimonies, and some Red Bull to shake and bake with. Anything in the wrong hands can be harmful. But then the human factor comes into play and people crash and collapse. No problem, they say, show them the carrots and hit them with a stick - if that doesn't work discard them and bring in the new recruits. Feeling expandable yet?

I hear a little, fainting voice

The day came to an end. I was tired after mountains of paperwork and the financial malabarisms to keep things rolling, my thoughts like an avalanche downhill. Is this it? Should I change carreer or even give up and apply for a less stressful job? I had used the stick the whole day, and it seemed that I had been given the smallest carrot from a bag of the McDodanlds happy meal. Then came a little voice: "You're precious and so is your family. To have a lack of self-confidence for certain tasks doesn't disqualify you as a person". Suddenly I wanted to go cycling. It was the first thing that came to mind. Who cares if the clock showed past 09:00 in the evening, this one was for me not for performance or challenge, and I remembered how fun and liberating cycling is! I ventured out along a tiny trail by the local creek. I saw young people playing near the water, I smiled. As I continued I stopped to look at the birds and take in nature, the fainting sunlight reflecting on the face of the waters, the smell of fresh Bird Cherry blossoms and the cool soothing air. The universe always has something to say...Sometimes it uses words.


I remembered strolling around the Riegelmann Boardwalk in New York after having lunch with my former boss. A life I left behind me to move to Sweden and be close to my children, even though I knew that here I'd be reduced to an unwanted "non-blonde", my history and life experience ignored because I don't look scandinavian and for being fat. I replied to the voice: "Hi, I know you're there. I'm sorry for not listening to you when I should. But, here I am now! I see you, and now that everything seems to collapse despite all success, I understand you even better..." This little cycling dialogue gave me a boost in my self-esteem which anchored itself in the fact that I don't need to be dependent on the voices of others and can continue to understand cause and effect, as I dare to live beyond the carrots and sticks of existence. I can be who I am and do what I do anywhere I go.

Dear diary

It is nice to perform, but my perfomance levels do not define me as a person. Quite the opposite! I don't wanna forget how awesome it is to go cycling and want to focus on performance when I feel for it. Praises are good things to receive, kudos boost endorphins and such. But, I hope I'll remain aware that some spit praises and compliments only to manipulate people to do what they want. I want to remain genuine and cultivate genuine relationships; praise whe its due and give real, heartfelt, detailed feedback when the moment calls for that. I hope to better myself, see, listen and understand myself and others better. Thanks for today! ___________________

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