Have you ever come across a challenge and immediately thought “I can’t do that! There’s no way! This is crazy talk!” Maybe you even quit before you started because you thought you would never ever be able to succeed.
When we’re attempting a really difficult climb on the trail, or a really long hike, it’s just as mentally challenging as it is physically challenging. That inner voice of self-doubt can sometimes make the difference between finishing or calling it quits early.
Here are 6 ways to conquer self-doubt as a hiker:
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Find a supportive community, or at least a buddy. If you’re family doesn’t support your backpacking shenanigans it can be so easy to let their voices run your narrative and fear and doubt will creep in. Reach out to someone who gets it and talk them about your plans, goals and dreams on the trail. You can find people to talk to in Appalachian Trail Facebook groups or in the forums on whiteblaze.net
Create one to three affirmations. Write them down, and read them out loud daily. Think of something along the lines of why you are a badass. What is something else, big, that you have accomplished that makes you believe you can accomplish even more? Or why do you want to hike, so you can prove you’re up to the physical challenge? To reclaim your independence? To learn more about yourself and challenge yourself personally? Are you hiking for a cause?Etc. If you are really having trouble coming up with affirmations you could try something as simple as ‘I can and I will.’
Do a self-assessment of your backpacking skills – what are you really good at? what have you never done before? (or you’re nervous about doing on the trail?) Go out and practice those skills, master them one at a time. If you’re still fairly new, you don’t even need to go full on backpacking, you can practice at local parks or campgrounds or even your backyard first before going on a multi-day hike on a trail. Once you know for sure that you know what you’re doing out there, your self-doubt will fade.
Read inspiring true stories – if for nothing else, just for the reminder that humans do crazy awesome thing each and every day, and if you’re an adult, no one else has the right to tell you can’t 😉
Know that once you’re on the trail – all that doubt will disappear. Really though, I went through some pretty scary stuff on my 1,300 mile LASH, let’s talk an unfortunate series of events that led to a bear stealing most of my gear, bacteria that mostly destroyed my gut and didn’t heal for four years, scary lightning storms and tornadoes, and being chased down by an angry momma turkey genuinely trying to attack me. Even after all that, I can still honestly say that the time I was most afraid, was on the long train ride to GA to start my hike. I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect or what I was really getting into and I was totally freaking out! But once I got to Springer Mountain and every day after that, all I felt was the rush of ‘I’m actually doing this thing!’
Just remember at the end of the day – you are the only one who needs to be excited and confident about your long distance hike. Well, unless you’re hiking with your family or another hiking partner then they need to be on board and believe in you too!
Let us know in the comments what has worked for you and helped you leave your self-doubt and fear behind.
For more hiking inspiration, check out these posts:
- How to tell your unsupportive family about your long distance hike
- Inspirational Outdoor Quotes
- Putting a positive spin on Hike Your Own Hike
- 5 Ways to kickstart your first thru hike
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