Balance - and how to achieve it - part IV

Ok, here we are with the fourth and final part of this little balance-series. We've addressed the physical and the mental aspects of balance. Today we are talking about the emotional partFor me, the main issue is fear (I'll cover anger some time later).

You'll probably have heard the word comfort zone. When you act within it, you feel safe and secure as you know what you are doing and are quite sure about the outcome. Unfortunately, learning takes place outside your comfort zone. Which is rather logical, as you acquire a new skill or new knowledge which makes you break new grounds. Sometimes that can be rather overwhelming. Or maybe you find yourself pushed in a situation that you feel you are not able to handle. You'll loose confidence and fear starts to come up.

Try the following to cope with your fear:


balance
1. Acceptance
First of all and most importantly, you just need to accept the fear. We are no superheros or superhumans. Fear is just another emotion with its original function being to protect us. It can get in the way of our plans, of course, but it isn't something bad we need to be ashamed of. The more we accept it, the better we live with it. Acceptance doesn't mean we let fear take a hold of us. Instead we take it into account and take action according to what is best for us.

2. Explore the limits of your comfort zone
You need to know your comfort zone and where it ends (that is easy to explore). Try to cross the line every once in a while and try to stay out there for a few moments. Fear doesn't subside by doing nothing - we need to take action. So it's vital that you face your fear, meaning stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing it. But it's also vital that it does not overwhelm you as that will take away your confidence as well. If it gets too much, retreat in your comfort zone, allow yourself to pause and then, go out again (it's funny as this is exactly the same we would deal with a scared horse: give him some exposure but allow him to retreat as well). Ideally, you feel the fear out there and are able to wait until your feelings change for the better. Take a every step at a time approach and be assured that even if it's tedious if you stick with it, the fear will become smaller and diminish.

3. Preparation
Try to be prepared. Think of what you are trying to work on and break it down into pieces: Is there any equipment you might need to succeed (I am not talking gadgets here. I mean a helmet or a high quality rope)? Are there some maneuvers your horse needs to know to help him understand you (don't go on a walk or ride with a horse you barely know. Check him out first)? 
For example, If I knew there could be some trouble getting the horse from the pasture, I'd choose a long, firm rope to allow the horse to drift plus not have him close and all over me (what happens if your rope is too short).

4. You are in charge, not anyone else
You feel your fear, not anybody else. It's your business, so don't let anybody push you over your limits. You need to protect you in order to stay safe and confident. You are free to choose what to do and what steps to take. It's your responsibility. Listen to the advice of others but decide for yourself.

As I am not the most confident rider, preparation for me is vital. I don't expose me or my horse to situations that I know are likely to get out of control. And I don't let myself be pushed to go there. Here's still one example when a situation got out of control and how I handled it: 

The frisian I take care of once a week ran me over several years ago when I was leading him from the pasture to the barn. Apart from a few bruises (the biggest one took my confidence) nothing happened. The next time I led him the same way I was tensed and anticipating him running me over again. He too was nervous but nothing happened. I led him again and again, and at some point the fear subsided. I not only faced the situation again and again, but I also tried to be better prepared: I worked with him on not invading my space plus I had become more aware of the fact that he tends to spook when he has passed something frightening and the scary object is right behind him. Another horse might have trouble passing it in the first place, he freaks when you think it's already over. So as scary being run over was, the experience has taught me some valuable lessons and makes me a better horse person. Now I can lead the frisian with confidence - anywhere.
(One more friesian-fear-story you can find here).

To end this post and the series, here are some more articles that I find very helpful

Anna Blake writes about how breath can help you, how to turn fear into something to eat and that we need to make friends with fear. On of my favorite posts of hers is this one about confident riders.
Anne Gage is a confidence specialist and has a lot of tips in her vault.
Pat and Linda Parelli share some ideas on emotions here.

Did you like this series? Is there anything I could have done better, anything I've missed? Let me know, I'd love to hear from you!

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