Selfie of Jo, Stuart and friend with cycle helmets on, smiling into the camera. Background grey rocky mountain with some greenery.

A mountain-biking lesson

A few years ago, I spent a day mountain-biking with my partner and a good friend of ours who used to live in the mountains in Andalucia, Southern Spain and who used to lead mountain-biking treks in the beautiful area around his home.

It was an adrenalin-fuelled day. We were on our bikes for hours in the sun, thighs and butts were burning by the evening! It was scary too - we cycled on tiny mountain-tracks with steep inclines and descents, rocks, boulders and loose stones everywhere and terrifying steep drops. I went through such a range of emotions from fear to excitement to pride that I was exhausted by the end of the day.

I was drinking at the time, so you can imagine how well I “rewarded” myself when we arrived tired, sweaty and achy back at the casita as the sun was going down… and you can also imagine how crap and incapacitated I felt the next day…

My partner and I were both complete novices: I was a cautious and careful novice and my partner was a gung-ho, fearless novice. He seemed to relish the more dangerous aspects of the ride and felt at home astride his bike, balancing on a stepped wall and bouncing down each step with a deep drop to one-side of him. I did nothing dangerous or death-defying, just stuck to the paths, got off the bike and pushed when I felt too intimidated by the upcoming challenges and battled with my brain which was catastrophising: what if I hit that rock, what if I fall, what if I skid, what if I die, etc.

One of the tips that our mountain-biking friend gave us really stuck with me and it's stuck with me since. He said,

“Look ahead but don’t look where you don’t want to go. Look where you want to go. Look at the path you want to follow and that's where you'll end up."

He went on to explain that if you’re focusing on the large rocks that you want to avoid, you’re much more likely to ride into them. The trick is to focus on the track between the rocks, as where you look is where you end up.

Exactly the same logic applies to life.

Where you look is where you end up.

If you’re focusing on the things you don’t want (drink, shame, regret, deprivation, etc) that’s what you’re going to get. You have to steer yourself towards the things you do want by paying them attention, focusing on them and giving them your energy.

If we focus on the drinks we’re missing out on, the good times we could have had if we were drinking, how great it would be if only we allowed ourselves to drink on that occasion, we’re much more likely to create that reality. BUT that’s the reality we’ve already decided we don’t want.

It's much better to focus on what you do want, the future you want for yourself, the things you want to be doing, how you want to be behaving, the relationships you want to be having, the healthy alcohol-free drinks you want to be drinking.

Sometimes in life, I catch myself looking at the rocks I want to avoid instead of the track in between and, when I do, I take my attention back to the track and to where I want to go. When you can do this, you will get to your desired destination much quicker and easier, with less bumps and challenges along the way.

Are you looking at the rocks you want to avoid or the path you want to follow? 

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