What is a post mistake ritual?
It is a mental technique that lets you recognize a mistake, then quickly put it behind you so that you can refocus on the present moment and what you need to do right now to perform at your peak. It is a skill that you pre-plan and practice ahead of time, until it becomes second nature. And, it works best when it is personalized, an action, word, or phrase that suits you.
So how can you create your own, personalized post mistake ritual?
Choose what works best for your riding discipline. If you compete in fast paced events, a quick word or phrase will work better for you than an action. If your discipline has pauses after maneuvers, or breaks between classes, then an action post mistake ritual might work better for you.
Word/Phrase Post-Mistake Rituals:
Words or Phrases are the quickest post mistake rituals. Choose a word or phrase that is positive and easy to remember.
Some words or phrases that riders I coach use include:
“We can do this!”
and of course, “Get Gritty!”
Action Post-Mistake Rituals:
Action post mistake rituals are the most powerful, since they replace the mistake with a concrete action. Some riders pair their action with a word or phrase too. However, it may not always be possible to pause to do an action post mistake rituals in fast paced events.
Some action post mistake rituals that riders I coach use include:
-Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and breathe out the mistake.
-Brush away the mistake by “brushing” your horse’s neck with your hand.
-Shrug your shoulders to “shrug off” the mistake.
-Shake your hands/arms to shake it off.
Making Your Post-Mistake Ritual Effective:
There are a few keys to give your post mistake ritual more power so that it is more effective for you.
1. Use it EVERY time you make a mistake-even in practice. By practicing the ritual, you train yourself to do it, so that it becomes and unconscious response to making a mistake, that way you don’t need to think about it during competition.
2. Attach positive meaning to your post-mistake ritual. In practice, when you have more time, it can be very helpful to take a few more minutes after making a mistake to do your post mistake ritual, then also condition more positive feelings to your post mistake ritual by repeating a positive affirmation statement, taking a deep breath, or other action that is calming and positive to you.
3. The idea of the post mistake ritual is to set the mistake aside to process later, so that you can focus on the current moment and get back to performing at your peak. So, for it to work, you need to actually go back after the practice/competition, and process the mistake. This can be a discussion with your trainer/instructor, or journaling about the mistake. You need to process what happened, and what you can do to prevent the mistake from happening again.
Put your Post-Mistake Ritual to work, and keep your focus on the actions that you need to take right now. You've got this!