We’ve talked a lot about how to make the most of your time this week, and I want to share another powerful mindset hack with you now: focusing on who you want to be is perhaps a more important first step in any action plan than focusing on what you need to do. The very first pathway in JoyRide, my online program, is dedicated to exactly that; it’s not about end goals or results (although that does appear as a glorious biproduct); it’s you dedicating yourself to practicing the smallest version of your dream right now, in the exact position that you find yourself in.
When it comes to emotions and feeling states, more often than not we think of them as something that will organically arise as a consequence of getting to a certain place.
… when I canter my horse, then I will feel confident
… when I get that score or placing at competition, then I will feel worthy
… when I achieve this thing, then I will know I can believe in myself
We chase certain feeling states and muse on the various destination points in our mind that we believe will leave us in the emotional position that we want.
The thing is, the cultivation of self-belief, courage and resilience is a muscle that we exercise rather than a destination we arrive at. There aren’t any quick fixes; rather it’s a drip-fed process that sees us incrementally develop our awareness of feeling and sensation, expand our emotional vocabulary so we can better identify the position we are in and action the appropriate response from that point.
It’s an active process of being who we want to be in addition to doing what we want to do.
Grab a pen and paper and let’s do an exercise together now.
Choose a feeling state that is something you aspire to be but feels removed from your current reality. It might be that you yearn to be braver, more confident, or feeling like you can back yourself. Make sure that it’s something that you are moving towards, rather than you are moving away from; for example, we can’t move towards being less anxious, but we can move towards being confident. If you find yourself automatically focusing on what you don’t want, flip it around to be the opposite. With that in mind, answer the following questions.
I’ll use confidence as an example, but you can substitute in whatever you want.
Why do I feel that confidence is not available to me as a feeling right now? Or Why is feeling confident impossible for me currently?
What do I need to do to move towards feeling more confident? What active steps can I take now that would allow me to feel more confident?
What do I need to think and be in order to practice confidence today? What opportunities are available to me now (both in and out of the saddle) that will allow me to practice confidence?
If you’re in a place currently where you are feeling anything but confident, expecting to transform from a place of anxiety or rampant self-doubt to one of self-belief and conviction in one swift step is not going to happen; it’s far too great a chasm to leap emotionally and energetically, and also dishonors your current feeling, which is worthy of respect.
This process is not about denial or attempting false bravado. Instead, it’s about recognizing that as humans, we have a tendency to focus in on a very narrow window of what’s available to us at the expense of the opportunities that also exist. For example, it’s possible to be accepting and understanding of the fact you currently feel anxious, while staying open to the opportunities available to feel more confident. It’s zooming out and allowing our perspective to expand, rather than choosing to be defined within a narrow window of our experience.
Over the course of today, allow your emotional window to expand to incorporate opportunities to practice more of what it is you want to feel. Let you mind include not only what it is you need to do, but who it is you need to be in order to cultivate the feelings you want in your riding and your life.