Our horses and sport provide us with an endless array of amazing opportunities and experiences, but sadly our brains are sometimes really good at thinking really bad things. Even though we love our horses, lessons, classes, and competitions, our thoughts don’t always match the greatness of our experiences. Sometimes we just get stuck thinking bad things when good things are happening.
Last month we began a series of monthly tips discussing defense mechanisms and coping strategies. It’s common for these terms to be used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different. Coping mechanisms are mental strategies that resolve stressful thoughts and feelings, while defense mechanisms are behaviors that attempt to avoid or hide from them.
This month we’re going to begin a several-month series about defense and coping mechanisms. It’s common for these two terms to be used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different. Coping mechanisms are mental strategies that resolve stressful events, while defense mechanisms are behaviors that attempt to avoid or hide from them.
Right now there are two very different people living inside of you (don’t worry, it’s only a metaphor.) The first one is the person who you are right now. That person is called your present-self and he or she is capable of achieving some pretty good things. Some pretty good skills, pretty good emotions, and pretty good results. But is your present-self capable of achieving the amazing and great skills, emotions, and results that you know you’re capable of?
This month we’ve all been given a new challenge. Not one from a cranky horse or complex course, but from the coronavirus . . . and like most challenges, it can sometimes leave you feeling a bit disoriented, defeated, and discouraged. Going through, and getting through it, with your confidence intact might not always easy, but it's definitely possible – as long as you believe it.
Mindset is everything. It defines how you’ll act and react; what you believe; how you treat yourself and others; and whether you’ll succeed or fail. It literally defines who you are and who you’ll become. From what drives you to what scares you, and from how you approach challenges to how you recover from mistakes, mindset is everything.
You know the importance of willpower. Never quit, never give up, make the rest of the ride the best of the ride - all that stuff. And you know the importance of horsepower. Balance, strength, condition, stamina - all that stuff.
If you’re like most people there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to make a New Year's resolution this year . . . and if you’re like most people there’s also a pretty good chance you’re going to have a really hard time hanging onto it past the beginning of February!
Keeping your mind focused on what’s productive (like transitions between dressage movements or fences) instead of what’s destructive (like worrying about the crowd) is one of the most important skills any rider can learn. While it’s a skill that can require a bit of practice, it’s one that can be learned quite quickly - as long as you know a trick. The good news is that there is a trick, and that trick is called question suggestion.
One day you’re going to do everything right and it’ll still go wrong. You’ll give 100 percent but come up short. You’ll do your best, but your best won’t be good enough.