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Managing the anxiety of loved ones

We all have at least one family member or friend that feels the need to remind us of the dangers of riding. Am I right? I know I definitely do. Often they’re sending through posts about accidents, making comments about the dangers of riding, or implying that riding is not a good idea if you want to live.

These comments generally stem from their own fear, but also love for you so it can be really difficult to know how to respond appropriately. 

Is it best to ignore their thoughts? 

Should we get angry with them for what they are saying? 

Or do we listen to them, and stop riding because of their fears?

I have heard of people choosing to do each of these options, but I probably wouldn’t recommend any of these responses, especially if you want to continue having a relationship with them.

Also, please remember this: if you chose to stop riding because of someone else’s fear, it’s only going to lead to heartache.

How do we respond? What should we say and do with our loved ones when they are trying to protect us? 

Well let’s take it back a step…. 

What is the reason behind the messages or comments? 

If we assume these messages are being said with the intention of protecting you, these loved ones clearly care about you. They aren’t just looking for reasons to stop you from doing something you enjoy. They actually believe in their minds that they are doing the right thing and that through their comments, they are going to “protect you”.  Although this clearly isn’t the case, it’s still coming from a good place. 

So of course the most appropriate response is to acknowledge their feelings and thank them for their concern. 

However, does this mean we don’t do the activity that we love because of their concern? Absolutely not!

Acknowledging their feelings does not mean you agree with them or what they are saying but instead, it’s about being respectful to a loved one. 

AND THATS IT!!

You actually don’t need to do anything else. Of course, it can be tempting to try and reassure them. However this is never going to work. 

Let me be very clear: It is not your responsibility to manage someone else’s fear, or any of their emotions for that matter.

That is their responsibility.

You can empathise with them if you want to. But other than that, it’s really important that you focus on, and put your energy into, what you are in control of. That includes your own emotions and your behaviours. 

What if someone else’s anxiety increases your own?

What if you are struggling with your own fear as a result of hearing about accidents and deaths?

What if you’ve lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident? 

If you have noticed you are experiencing increased anxiety about riding or while you are on your bike, it’s important to implement strategies to help you manage this. Please don’t avoid riding as it will only increase your anxiety. Bring your focus back to what is within your control. 

Of course these are basic suggestions. If you need further support, chat to your friends and if it’s affecting your riding, it may be worth speaking to a psychologist for professional support.


Girl Moto is grateful to have Kim Walker contribute her many years of insight as a Psychologist to this publication. If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety related to motorcycle riding, either as a rider or as a loved one, please reach out. Kim is available for face to face and tele-health appointments. Bulk billing via Medicare may be available for Australian residents. Email: fitpsych@hotmail.com or contact Girl Moto and we will put you in touch.


Kim
Kim
After growing up in the country town of Warwick, plus a few more "way out west" towns during her 20’s, Kim became a country girl at heart. Her love of bikes started early riding dirt bikes around country properties. Today she loves to go exploring on her road bike, but it's her crazy love of F1 side-car racing that keeps her adrenaline flowing. It comes from her "give anything a try once" attitude. Which also led her to compete at National and State levels in Olympic Weightlifting. But as if that wasn't enough, Kim can add competitor on the first season of Australian Ninja Warrior to her impressive list of achievements. By day, Kim is a psychologist, passionate about working with riders on issues impacting their performance. Kim is proud to be Girl Moto's resident psych, contributing regularly to content related to all the mental stuff!
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