Everyone has a style that works for them. I know when it comes to speaking of any kind-Facebook live, podcasts, clinics, presentations- I’m definitely a freestyler. Notes pull me off my game and out of flow. When I have them, I concentrate more on pages in front of me than what it is that’s in my heart. So I do away with them.
Despite this, when the time comes to take the stage, I question my approach. Will today be the day my tongue seizes up and I discover I actually have nothing to say? Has it been a fluke up until this point and now the words that I’ve relied on spinning round my brain space have decided to take up residence elsewhere?
Oh, Itty Bitty Shitty Committee. It’s lucky we’re such good friends.
Last week, I was invited to teach at a Pony Club Development Camp and give a talk in the evening to 100+ members in attendance. The night before, I scanned the audience at the introductory dinner. As I watched them relaxing in their camping chairs, potluck dinner in hand, I immediately changed my mind from my original plans. And then changed it again. And again, over the course of the next day.
The main reason was the age range. The youngest were 6 years old- little ones! – and the oldest was 23. Not to mention the parents and supporters too. What would appeal to everyone? What is it that everyone needs to hear? How could I deliver it in a way that wouldn’t bore the pants off them and make them fall asleep in their pizza?
The theme of the camp was relationships. I mused. At the base of it, I decided, the relationships here took three different forms; relationship with oneself, relationship with each other and relationship with your horse. Things that affect all of us. I would touch on those three things.
Relationship with Yourself
I got asked the question once, that if I could choose one habit to focus on that would create the biggest impact for those I worked with, what would it be?
That’s easy, I said.
The habit of believing in yourself.
The simple truth is that the habit of not believing in yourself has reached epic proportions. Of all the limiting beliefs that I hear about on a daily basis, the “I’m not good enough” mindset takes the top prize. You see, I’m different in that when people come to me, they come with the expectation that we are going to discuss the matters of the heart and mind. This short circuits the master plan of the I’m-Not-Good-Enough gremlin, whose genius lies in convincing you that you are the only one that feels this way. This simple act of connecting with another person and sharing what you feel breaks down the wall we’ve built on the mistaken assumption that we’re the only one that feels that way.
It’s simply not true.
Having had hundreds of conversations with individual riders along similar lines, I now know this: from happy hackers to world class professionals, I’m-not-good-enough-ness strikes us all the same. It crowd funds its minions, the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee, to speak to you constantly; to talk you out of decisions, to trick you into inaction, to minimize your effort, so in the end, they don’t actually have to do very much at all. You’ve convinced yourself they’re right before they’ve even got to having their second coffee.
I understand that it can be unclear how having a negative belief impacts what it is you experience, but the relationship is an important one to get your head around. Think of it this way. What you believe directly impacts the decisions that you make. In the face of opportunity, forward movement or anything that equates to growth (and consequently putting you outside of your comfort zone), limiting beliefs cause you to play safer, smaller or not at all.
If you DO choose to play, chances are the level of effort you put in will be less than that of someone who really believes that they have what it takes to succeed. As a result, our limiting beliefs lead to limiting decisions and low-level effort, which in turn creates a result which reinforces the cycle.
We essentially prove ourselves right.
In the same way that success breeds success, poor results also feed on themselves.
The thing about good-enough-ness is that it’s pretty much your birth right. Your worthiness and deservedness are never in question. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, what you have (or haven’t) won, whether you hired a horse trailer to get there or arrived in your luxury truck, all of us have the same starting platform.
You are good enough and you deserve to be here.
The practice of self-belief comes with cultivating the ability to separate out the low-level thoughts and act in alignment with the bigger vision of where it is you are heading.
It’s an inside to outside game.
The mistake we make is that we wait for evidence to show up on the outside to determine how it is we are going to feel.
When “x” happens, then I will believe in myself.
When “y” occurs, then I will feel confident.
We have the wrong way around.
The self-belief comes first. Our only job from that point is to align our decisions and actions alongside what we want to believe and operate from that place.
Attention to the moment. Action in alignment with the higher intention.
Relationship With Each Other
The word “culture” does funny things to us. It makes us believe there’s an entity swirling around us that is creating the atmosphere for how things are.
I often hear statements such as:
Horse people are so bitchy
Horse people love to gossip
Horse people aren’t very inclusive
Culture, though, is you and me. If we are horse people, then we form part of the culture of our world. Culture is not what happens to us. It’s what we create.
If we want to see less bitchiness, then we need to practice kindness.
If we don’t like gossip, we need to be careful with our tongues.
If we feel like we aren’t included, then we need to practice inclusiveness.
It’s not enough to lament what you don’t like. We need to practice what it is we want to see and allow that energy and way of going about things to create momentum.
Culture is you and me. Be the culture you want to see.
Relationship with Our Horse
You know something we often take for granted? Just what a miracle it is that horses let us partner and work with them in the way that we do.
The fact that we can ride, train and learn from these huge powerful creatures is something that I am in constant awe of.
It’s one of life’s everyday miracles.
And as a result, we are 100% responsible for ensuring that the interactions we have and the quality of what we offer in terms of energy, empathy and understanding is front of mind every time we present ourselves to them.
Most of the time, we’re not responsive to what’s presenting in the moment. Instead, the stories that we tell ourselves or how it is we react is a consequence of either past experience or future projections, usually centred around trying to avoid what we don’t want to happen. A huge part of what I offer in my online program, JoyRide, centres around the skills of emotional flow; the ability to be in the moment, to check in with yourself not only a logical and intellectual level, but on an emotional and instinctual level and then ask, what is it that I am feeling, and what does that feeling mean?
Take anxiety or fear as an example; the intensity of these emotions can make them difficult emotions to process, especially when we are unsure how to do so skilfully. If we don’t understand the motivating questions behind them, it’s easy to get stuck in an emotional loop that spins back around on itself. At this point, we get pulled out of alignment. Our thoughts, feelings and how we are presenting don’t match up. We are out of emotional flow.
Our ability to be in flow and in alignment directly correlates to our ability to show up as trustworthy and reliable partners to our horses. Their ability to feel safe and supported comes with being in constant communication with their environment and the members of their herd. When we remove them from that setting and ask that they instead trust us, they naturally assess how reliable we are as partners, and a key criteria that either confirms or denies this is how anchored we are to the present moment.
A mind that is living in the past or zooming to the future creates a fractured energy not anchored in the now. To your horse, if your attention is anywhere but here, how can you be relied upon to be responsive to what’s presenting- in your environment, with your horse, and perhaps most importantly, within you?
Presence is where it begins. Being grounded in the moment. Present to what you are feeling. Present to what is presenting. Deciding on the most effective course of action in alignment with those two things.
Attention to the moment. Action in alignment with the higher intention.