Aug 07, 2018

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Bad Guy Bias

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

For the past few months we’ve been talking about limiting beliefs, those unintentional negative thoughts that have a nasty way of limiting our ability to think in a confident way. While limiting beliefs come in all shapes and sizes, most of them come in the form of blindspot biases - negative thoughts we don’t think we’re thinking even though we’re thinking them (whew… that’s a lot of thinking!). In short, blindspot biases are any negative thoughts that lie below the surface of our awareness (thoughts we’re blind to). Unfortunately, just like a car hiding in your vehicle’s blindspot, these thoughts can get you into a ton of trouble.

In my previous two articles I told you about bandwagon bias (adopting the beliefs of others even though they might not be true) and telescoping bias (seeing your mistakes and failures as if looking through a telescope so they seem bigger than they actually are). This month I’m going to tell you about another blindspot bias called the bad guy bias.

So just what is bad guy bias and how can it affect your ability to act in a positive way? Well, think of a memory from your past when you were a bit worried about what others might have been thinking about you as you rode in a class, clinic, or competition. Regardless of the situation, there’s a pretty good chance those thoughts might have made you a touch nervous. After all, those onlookers could have be thinking some really bad stuff about you! And there it is. The reason you became nervous was because you unintentionally thought that everyone was thinking bad things about you (meaning they’re bad people) even though it probably wasn’t true!

In short, the bad guy bias occurs when riders develop the subconscious habit of believing that everyone watching them are bad people - critical of everything they do and looking to pick them apart for their weaknesses while ignoring their strengths! But here’s the bias part - it's not true! The majority of people watching are more likely to be kind and people who’ve been in the same situation as you - and in some way - are actually hoping you’ll do well.

And here’s another unusual layer to the bad buy bias; if a bad guy was actually watching you (overly critical of everything you did, picking you apart, and hoping you’ll do poorly), you’d probably agree it’s not really worth your effort to worry about them anyways, right?

So, in the end, the bad guy bias can cause you to feel like you’re no longer in control of your emotions because you might have unintentionally given that control to the (seemingly) bad guys around you, by simply believing in the common mental bias that those around you are saying bad things about you (even when it’s not true!)

This month, really think about the relationship you have with those around you. From the spectators to the judges - and from your opponents to their trainers - always remember to treat them like they're as good as you know you are instead of how bad you think they might be.

Please consider joining me at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs or Lake Placid, or at the IMG Elite Athlete Institute in Sarasota, Florida, this fall for an Equestrian Athlete Training Camp where we’ll be spending four days discussing rider fitness, sport psychology, athlete nutrition, team-building, yoga, injury prevention/recovery, and much more. Riders of all levels and disciplines are welcome and members of the USEA receive a $255 scholarship. For more information, click here.

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Weekend Quick Links: March 6-7, 2021

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.

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Badminton Horse Trials Cancels 2021 Event

It is with great disappointment and regret, which we know will be shared by many, that we announce the cancellation of the 2021 Badminton Horse Trials which was due to be held “behind closed doors” between May 5 and May 9. This cancellation also includes the BE90 and BE100 Championships (May 4 and 5).

Mar 01, 2021 Association News

USEA Podcast #278: Team Talk #4

We've got another Team Talk update for you listeners this week! Nicole Brown is joined once again by USEF Eventing High Performance Director Erik Duvander and USEF Managing Director for Eventing Jenni Autry to talk about the U.S. eventing team's path forward to Tokyo.

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Now on Course: Heartbeats and Hoofbeats

My name is Tayah Fuller and I’m 14 years old. “On course” to me is a phrase that makes my heart pump fast and my excitement go wild. There is no better feeling than galloping through a field or flying over cross-country jumps with my heart thrumming along, especially when it is with my best friend. You see, I was born with a congenital heart murmur. While it has never really affected my athletic abilities, the one time that I notice it is when I am riding through a cross-country course with my horse.

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