Upward Cycles of Progress

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My whole world blew apart when I stop thinking in terms of straight lines and instead began thinking in cycles. After all, nature moves in cycles. The seasons are cyclic. The days are cyclic. Hormonal patterns are cyclic. Being of nature ourselves, it makes sense then that our learning, understanding, and growth is cyclic too. 

Removing myself from the idea that progress and success was a trajectory from A to B was not a simple one. As I began to distance myself from the conditioned version of success so well-known to many of us, I learned to embrace familiar challenges with a renewed sense of purpose and understanding. What’s more, I came to understand cyclic “problems” not as personal failures but as invitations to apply new skills, learnings and awareness that had been unavailable to me previously. What I saw now presenting was not a roadblock but a necessary part of my evolution; it was an upward cycle of progress. 

One of the most common “deflation points” I see with riders that I work with are feeling of failure or disappointment around situations “coming back” that they had considered resolved; this is especially common in situation where there has been anxiety or trauma. For instance, if you had previously identified as being a nervous rider, but had got yourself to a position where the nerves had taken a backseat, feeling that familiar flush of concern in your tummy when it comes to saddling up can feel like the past has come back to haunt you. 

I thought I was past this!  I can’t believe this is happening! Am I never going to get over it?

The “will this never go away” feeling is a typical one when we are operating from a linear mindset. It causes us to compartmentalize what it is we are experiencing into categories such as good, not so good, working on it and done. The “done” box is where we come unstuck. When we consider an experience to be done, any experiences to the contrary are disempowering and deflating. We berate ourselves for not being better than this, 

stronger than this, less of a failure. What’s more, we think that we are “back at the start” and lose the sense that we have made any progress at all.

The thing is, we are only able to deal with a situation within the skillset and understanding that are available to us at the time. Doing the work does not mean that you will never experience anxiety, fear or upset (for example) again, but it does mean that within the range of possibility that was available to you at time, you created enough momentum to move you towards a better feeling space.

If in the future, the same fears or anxieties return, it’s not a failure or a reflection of deficiency on your part; you aren’t in the same place that you were before. You have moved forward. Instead, what you are now presented with is an an opportunity to renegotiate that same experience or feeling state with the new skills, understandings and resources available to you in the position that you are in. An upward cycle of progress.

Peeling back another layer.

Another invitation to take things forward.

Upward cycles of progress.


❤️ Jane

8 thoughts on “Upward Cycles of Progress

  1. Man, this hit home! I have finally gotten back to my horse, making riding a prority and having a smile on my face when the ride is done. Then, one “bad” experience and I feel like I’m back at square one, starting over without the benfit of any of that great accomplishment that I had the day before.
    Going to take stock of your words, as I always do, start applying them, and quite berating myself when things don’t go exactly as planned.
    I allow myself two steps forward and one back in everything else I do. Need to cut myself the slack and apply it to my horse life!

  2. Hi Jane

    This blog echoes my feelings when I find myself tipping forward when trotting, something I have been working hard on to overcome. But the tipping forward is a strong default position for me especially when I’m feeling anxious. Sometimes I don’t even recognise I’m feeling anxious at the time! I know I have trotted quite a bit with the correct biomechanics and think “Great I’ve got over my habit of leaning forward!” But when my instructor tells me I’ve reverted to my old habit, I do feel deflated and annoyed with myself, just as you have explained. But I think your idea of progress not being linear but upward cycles of progress will help me feel better about myself and put it all in perspective. Thanks for your great ideas again! Kind regards, Katie

  3. Great blog. I particularly liked what you said about returning to a point but armed with additional knowledge and skills this time around.

  4. Thanks Jane, yes when we step slightly out of the comfort zone so to speak and the wee niggles start, now I know I can overcome/conquer them again, with out feeling I am back at the start, makes so much sense, Thank you . Hope the PC camp is great. not sure if peter Barke is there, please say hi if he is. xx

  5. I’m so happy it’s helpful Kate! And yes he is- he’s a lovely man. Thanks so much! ❤️ Jane

  6. Yes!! Go you Mitzi! I can empathise with that feeling completely but you are definitely not back where you started. Recognising the cycle and practicing self-compassion will leave you in a much better feeling place ❤️Jane

  7. Such a pleasure Katie, thank you so much. Your hard work is coming together, I have no doubt! ❤️Jane

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