I’ve been riding a bike for approximately 24 years of my life. This is one of the things I love most about summer in Denver; Cherry Creek path, bike lanes through downtown, and even the dreaded Highlands hill. I made it a goal this summer that after 24 years, I was determined to learn how to ride with no hands. I see people doing it all the time, so graceful and effortless, yet every time I have tried it seems to be more of a letting-go-for-2-seconds- 3 centimeters-above-my-grips type of display.
As the summer is coming to an end and I have successfully (by my own standards) learned to ride with no hands, I reflect back on why this process was such a struggle for me. Two things primarily stand out. #1 The relationship I have with myself and #2 trust.
Let me start with #1. I realized that my self-talk around this task was incredibly negative. Words like “failure”, “can’t”, and “stupid”; sayings like “you’ll never be able to“, “you don’t have the skill”, and “you should be ashamed” were penetrating my mind. It made me realize that what was happening had very little to do with the actual task and everything to do with the relationship I was having with myself. This was not a healthy relationship. I would never imagine talking to a friend, partner, colleague, or client in this way so what makes it okay for me to talk to myself in such a way?
The second thing I noticed is trust. Conveniently, this goes hand in hand with #1. Trusting myself enough to “let go” both figuratively and literally, directly correlates with the relationship I have with myself. Until I learned to trust myself, my legs, and my ability I was never going to make it more than the 2 seconds. The things I was telling myself made it very difficult to have trust. After all how could I possibly attempt this daring feat believing I was a stupid failure that would never be able to? (In hindsight I realize it may not be the daring feat I had built it up to be, but an internal feat nonetheless). The awareness around this negative self-talk allowed me to begin to trust myself again and change the relationship I was having internally. I moved to “just try, you can do it”, “trust yourself”, “you’re only a failure if you don’t try”, and eventually “Holy shit! No hands!”.
Granted the furthest I have made it with no hands is 1.5 blocks, I am proud of myself. Each time I attempt this now, taking a little more of a risk (hitting a bump, or trying to turn…I know super risky), I feel the sense of relief. Relief that I am no longer a prisoner to my own words, liberation from continuing the patterns of the past, and strength in knowing that it’s okay to trust myself and believe it! Like most relationships, the one we have with ourselves takes work, only this is not one where we can go sleep in the other room, one we can’t divorce or break up with, and one that can be our best friend or our worst enemy. So the next time you find yourself feeling stuck, I encourage you to think about that relationship and notice the level of trust. Having a positive relationship with ourselves is empowering and fulfilling. Riding with no hands allowed me to reevaluate this relationship and choose to either continue in the same toxic manner or embrace the power to change it. I chose to kick those nasty words out because I was determined, but also for the love of myself. So, I ask you this question: Are you willing to ride with no hands?