Recently I stumbled across a video by a guy named Jay Smooth who runs a successful hip-hop blog and the longest running hip-hop radio show in NYC. In the video he talked about his struggle with what he calls "the little hater." The little hater is that voice inside your head that tells you you're not good enough at something, especially when it's something creative. Watch the video before reading on, it's humorous and spot on, don't worry, I can wait:
What really clicked for me in this video is when Jay said that the little hater sets his first trap of "perfectionism." I tend to demand a lot from myself when I fly, if I screw up one radio call or land a little rougher than I want (which is all the time) that bastard start talking in my ear how much of a "wannabe pilot" I am.
It gets worse when I haven't flown in a few months, the little hater starts asking me questions. "If you flew today, how safe would you be?" "Could you handle a sudden gust of wind 20 ft off the ground?" "Do you even remember how to start the airplane?" Pretty soon my head is filled with ridiculous questions regarding my own skills and worth and ever time I look up at the sky to watch a small plane I almost get sick with guilt. I double down and start building a lot of expectations on myself that the NEXT TIME I fly I'm going to be strive to be PERFECT. Of course, I know that's a lie, so I stall and stall and stall and never make a reservation. Which makes me feel even more racked with guilt.
Now of course the logical thing to do is to just schedule a damn flight, and if you're really worried, book an instructor. Here's the thing, I get even more anxious with an instructor because then I'll have someone WATCHING ME. Even if the instructor is silent that little hater is going to start talking for him/her in my head "Dude, this guy sucks...how long has he been flying anyway?"
To beat the little hater, the only thing I think you can do is recognize when he's there, then actively and ruthlessly ignore him. Recall your experience, read a checklist, go over radio calls in your head, go over common tasks in an aircraft in your head and mime them out (when no one is looking of course) and just FLY DAMNIT!
I've asked a question on CircleToLand.com about beating the nerves after going a long time without flying.
If you have any suggestions to help me or anyone else beat the hater, post an answer at the link above! We can fight him together!