Sometimes we remember the losses more than the wins. Our brain is structured that way, it’s main function is to keep us alive.
But we do have a say in this. Neuroscience shows that we can restructure our brain. Just because we have a super highway to the “oh crap” part of this incredible machine, it doesn’t mean we have to keep reinforcing it.
Lots of interesting studies have been done on what kind of thoughts and actions create new neural pathways.
Thanks to the incredible World Wide Web, this information is at your fingertips.
But, if you are not a neuroscience geek like me, here are three ways you can change how traffic flows in your brain.
Here’s the thing, just like you won’t get stronger arms without weights or working in a barn, your brain won’t change without some consistent training.
Now- you cannot do a fake “ooo and ahhh”, and plaster a smile on your face, pretending to be all positive and shit, that does not work!!!
That smile on your face, needs to trickle into every cell of your being!!
That feeling of “holy freaking sunset set the sky on fire” must spread throughout your darkest interior landscape.
And just to be clear, I am NOT saying you have to be grateful and find awe in every moment. Absolutely not!!
We are complex feeling beings. It’s ok to feel sad, we are entitled to anger.
Let yourself feel all of it!! BUT- give yourself the gift, even in the middle of a shit storm, to notice, that holy freaking crap, despite all of it, you are alive.
Happiest day you love to all of you
If you’ve ever done a clinic with me, you’ll have heard me say that whatever I’m presenting on will get really big for me in my own life. So for example, if I’m doing a clinic on fear in the saddle, all of a sudden my fear will slap me so hard across the face I can’t turn away from it and I’ll have to deal with it. It’s turned into a freaking cosmic joke at this point. If I was a bit smarter maybe I’d start doing clinics on “how to be fabulous” or “riding is actually easy”, but...
(actually the “how to be fabulous” may need to happen)
If you read the blog I wrote at the beginning of the week, I talked about not damaging your relationship with your horse by taking your emotions out on him. (I pretty much only ride geldings so excuse my use of my him in all my blogs. You can replace it with her if you are crazy enough to ride mares)
Alright, so, on Tuesday night I find myself in a group lesson playing a loooong game of tugga war with the Ji Man. I’m pretty sure he started it but, let’s be honest, I know better than to play that game, and even though I spend many hours in the gym, I’ve got nothing on him. The game ends with me letting out a primordial scream which may have sounded a bit like a four letter word I’m too old to get away with using in a place like this. Too be clear though, there were only adults present! Ji did stop, not sure if it was my yelling or he just had enough, and one of the trainers rode over, with a smirk and maybe a slight look of disapproval. I honestly can’t remember because my whole world was tinted red.
If you’ve seen me ride, you’ve probably heard me make a noise. I’m vocal, and I definitely express myself in some odd ways. I make a weird whopping sound when I get a bit jumped out of the tack and I grunt fairly often.
This scream was a bit more... cause for concern.
She looks at me, and with a pretty straight face asks “what’s the problem?”
“HE’S THE PROBLEM!!”, comes out of me.
I know as soon as I say those words that I’m in deep. Ack...
She talks for a bit. I can’t remember what she says, but I know tears are welling up in my eyes.
I walk off. I trot a bit. I soften some.
I reflect on me. Not on him.
I notice the knot in my chest that was probably there before I mounted. I soften more and allow myself to feel this place. I’m sad. A bit scared. Nothing at all to do with my horse. I stop trying and just let him move.
I feel this big being under me. I try my best to not beat the crap out of myself for bringing my human struggle into our relationship. I pat him often as we go.
I wonder if it’s true that horses are very forgiving. I think it is. Maybe that’s one of the greatest gifts we can learn from them... To forgive more. Forgive others when they cause us harm, and to truly, in the deepest part of our scraggly human soul, forgive ourselves when we have those moments of acting like fools.
~ Have a great ride.
The Slow Down Process
1) Take a breath. Extend the exhale
2) Bring your awareness to your body
3) Stay in the first place you are drawn to
5) Make a choice (act, ask, or simply allow)
I’ve been putting off writing my first blog post for The R.E.A.L equestrian. Everyday I just kept telling myself that I’m not in the mood to write. Well, today I realized that it’s not that I’m not in the mood to write, it’s that I am in a bad mood.
In my mind, I wanted this first blog to be super inspiring, uplifting, freaking life altering for everyone who reads it. I imagined writing one of those blogs that will be quoted on GoodReads.com. But…. as I was showering, getting ready for a Year End’s banquet, with a choked up throat and heavy heart, it came to me. The R.E.A.L equestrian is about being real. My goal with this work is to shine light into our humanness, and let ourselves be seen!
On my website I talk about how most people walk around pretending to be ok. Maybe the mask comes off with our closest friends, but possibly not even then. Our social media is full of (edited) smiling pictures, blue ribbons, and all kinds of adventures. We all assume that everyone else is doing/feeling sooooo much better than us. Well, guess what, being human means having feelings. We all feel sad, angry, frustrated at times, and the more we hide those emotions, the more they build up!
Get REAL clinics and sessions are about honesty, and a deep exploration of what the heck is underneath the surface.
Why is this important??? Well, for one, once you let down your guard and allow yourself to be seen, you’ll feel tons better. Plus, when people know what’s going on, you can actually get support.
AND, you can’t actually lie to your horse. It drives me a bit nuts when people say, “leave your stuff at the barn door”. Well… that’s not actually possible. If you are sad, you can pretend all you want but your horse will know it. And you know what horses distrust more that anything?
Incongruence. Which means, your insides do not match your outside, like if you are smiling but you are actually super upset.
Here’s the thing. The more we practice noticing what we are feeling in our body (you can use the SDP- Slow Down Process for this) the more you are able to adjust and deal with what you are feeling.
The whole goal is authenticity!! Be who your are. Let people see you. Learn to experience and express your feelings in a healthy way.
Gah… this is the stuff that aught to be worked on in freaking kindergarten and then supported throughout our education.
Anyway, I digress.
The whole point of this blog was my own honesty and getting real about winter blues or whatever the heck is making me feel like I want to hibernate until something changes.
Yesterday, as I was tacking up my big weirdo, I noticed that my mood was off. Boom. First thing-notice.
I did a bit of a check in to see if there was something I needed or a reason for this dark/grumpy place I was in. Nothing revealed itself, and I decided to ride. Here’s the thing though, for a perfectionist like me (which probably played a part in me not wanting to write my first blog on how crappy I feel), I have to be very aware of my internal world as I handle and/or ride my horse. Hmm… make that, when I do life period. As a perfectionist, in (sort of) recovery, it’s really important that I don’t project my crap onto others/my horse. So, going into this ride, I was very clear that I would ask very little of my guy, and focus on rewards. That way my mind is going to the positive instead of finding everything that’s wrong with HIM!!
Good intention. It didn’t work. But here’s the thing. I knew it wasn’t working, and at this point in my life, I am somewhat good at stepping back, and adjusting. So I hopped off and traded horses with my trainer/friend.
Here’s the funny (but not funny) thing. I was getting frustrated over Ji’s lack of bend and my ability to move his shoulder. I get on this green horse, that yes, is willing, but has ABSOLUTELY no bend. I mean, it’s like she has a steel rod that starts at her dock and goes all the way into her poll. Now here’s the thing. I had NO emotional reaction to this. NONE!!!
Moral of that story. Your big emotions are rarely about the thing that triggers them.
Second moral of the story. Don’t ruin your relationship with your horse by taking your crap out on them. And, I’m not talking about physically, like cropping them too much, I’m talking emotionally!!
So, here I am. It’s almost time to head out the door to the awards banquet. We are actually taking home Year End Champion in the Beg/Nov division. (We may not have had any competition)
Now, 15 minutes ago when I started writing this I felt like shiiiiiiiiiit, and right now I am feeling rather good.
And that my dear readers is a HUGE part of this puzzle of life. Stop hiding. Be yourself. Let your messiness shine, and GET REAL!!!
Oh, and one more thing. Find the people you can trust with all of you. The ones that you can tell about your heavy heart and never-ending tears. The ones that know when to just listen and when you need a swift kick in your butt. Find your tribe.