Here’s the thing: If you are trying new things, putting yourself out there and make any sort of effort towards improving yourself and your abilities, you’re going to be uncomfortable at some point. In fact, if you are doing ANY of those things even a tiny bit regularly, bets on you’re are feeling uncomfortable on a pretty regular basis. How do I know? Well, I’m right there with you.
Having chosen to adventure into horsing territory previously unknown to me- the adventure of starting my own horse under saddle- I find myself on a daily basis reflecting, considering, contemplating and revising my horsing plan from one day to the next. The truth of it is, we all have our own Everests that we’re facing. No matter what your current horsey dreams or challenges, if you’re stepping into territory that pushes the edges of your comfort zone, then your discomfort is valid and to be applauded. In the face of consistently extending yourself, it’s easy to shrink back and play to what you know. It’s an expression of every day bravery to keep showing up and commit yourself to doing something that requires you to seek more of yourself.
I read a quote from the winner of the just-completed Mongol Derby, the wonderful Bob Long. The words that struck me were “Well, I would hate to think I couldn’t do it”. His words have rung in my ears since. And he’s right. It may not be the Mongol Derby that applies to you, but we all have a thing that We’d Hate To Think We Couldn’t Do. Which makes the only choice available to us to get out there and make it happen.
This morning, I sat down with myself and thought about the common themes that come up from choosing to “play bigger”. Let look at a couple of the top contenders now.
Trap # 1: Not Good Enoughness
Inevitably, as soon as we start to extend ourselves, the are-you-good-enough-to-do-this gremlins start to come out to play. The excuse of not being good enough is a massively convenient one to draw on when you feel uncomfortable. After all, if you make the assessment that you actually aren’t good enough, it’s pretty much game over. You’re able to return to the place where the tea and chocolate is. And at times, let’s face it, that’s super appealing.
The thing about not-good-enough though is that if there IS some validity in it in terms of needing to upskill or develop your understanding and abilities in a certain area, then it’s simply a sentence in your last chapter that informs how the next one is going to look; it’s not the end of the book altogether.
If it does hold weight, the power lies in turning the I’m-not-good-enough-full-stop into theres-something-I-need-to-learn-or-master.
The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee are masterful at convincing you that your not-good-enough concerns are nothing to do with skill and everything to do with intrinsic value. Don’t believe them. Being good enough is a decision to ongoing learning, showing up and incremental bites of progress moving forward. If you want to be good enough then you have to decide to be; acceptance and kindness to yourself in the moment, action in alignment with your higher vision and intention.
Trap # 2: Comparisonitis
If you are in the process of giving your comfort zone a little shimmy-shimmy, it’s so easy to start to measure where you’re at alongside your projected assumptions of where other people would be at should they be in the same position as you, or to think about where “you should be by now” within a linear time frame of expectation.
The thing is, that you are your horse are a completely unique combination. Creating a partnership that is based on mutual trust, understanding and growth has nothing to do with what anyone else is or could be doing in the same position as you, and everything to do with what you are doing.
The motto that I align myself too in moment where I catch myself indulging in comparison is simply run your own race. I remind myself of my intention and then continue to make decisions and take action in alignment with that.
At the end of the day, it’s an exercise in focus- and you can’t focus on two different things at the same time. Focusing on other people and comparing yourself to them costs you energy and attention you could be channeling into yourself and your horse. Use your resources wisely.
Trap # 3: Storylines
Here’s something to practice. How long can you have a direct experience of a moment before you add a story to it? It’s a skill all of us could use practice with.
More often than not if we feel afraid, concerned or upset, the story that we have created around the circumstance is far worse than the reality of what it is that we are being presented with.
The next time you are with your horse and you have the chance to pause and observe, see how long you are able to give them your full and open-hearted attention without adding a story. Without exaggerating or inflating what it is you are seeing and experiencing.
Instead, detach yourself from the thought and focus on the feeling, on where your observations register in your body. Stay with that until you notice a shift.
When we let go of the story, what we are left with is direct experience. At that point, we are left to decide if there is something to be done, or there is nothing to be done.
If there is something to be done, ask yourself, what could I do in this moment to move both myself and my horse to a better feeling space?
If there is nothing to be done, then the task is simply to allow space for both you and your horse to cycle through the mood of the moment until the opportunity presents for the focus to be taken in a different direction.
Direct attention without the story.
Deliberate action or non-action.
Movement towards better feeling places.