Jun 02, 2020

Daniel Stewart's Tip of the Month: Your Ego is not Your Amigo

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

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.

Coping mechanisms are also called adaptive strategies because they help you adapt to challenging situations. Defense mechanisms are called ego-defenses because they function by making you avoid challenges so that you can protect a fragile ego. Unfortunately, ego-defenses distort reality, making you feel like the situation has improved but, in fact, it hasn’t. You might feel momentarily detached from it, but the underlying problem still remains.

A fragile ego can make you blame mistakes on others, repress troubling emotions (instead of sharing them with your trainer), and avoid pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. It’s also a major cause of fear of failure and perfectionism; so it goes without saying that your ego is definitely not always you amigo!

There are many different coping (good) and defense (evil) mechanisms. One of each is described for you below. In the coming months, I’ll introduce you to many more. Hopefully becoming mindful of the difference between adaptive strategies and ego defenses will help you to pick good over evil!

Coping Mechanism: Humility

Humble riders have something called positive-realism. They don’t think too highly of themselves, but they don’t think too poorly of themselves either. They make the best of a bad situation without losing their confidence, trying to avoid it, or looking for scapegoats. Humility allows them to create the “just right” amount of self-importance that helps them avoid developing an over-inflated, prideful sense of self-importance that can make them want to defend their fragile ego.

Defense Mechanism: Projection

Projection happens when you place uncomfortable thoughts or feelings onto someone else, or when you react to your own incorrect impulses as though they were happening to someone else. In this way, you project your own unacceptable feelings on to others; like when you dislike a judge but make yourself feel better by saying she doesn’t like you, or when you say something like, “I’m not the one who’s afraid of failure, you’re the one who’s the perfectionist!"

Riding is a tough sport requiring tough decisions made by tough athletes. Learn to be that tough rider by taking responsibility for every part of the ride (including the bad stuff) instead of projecting them onto someone else. Learn to believe that the good in you is capable of making a bad situation better!

I hope you enjoyed this month’s tip and that I’ll get the chance to teach you in one of my upcoming summer clinics. For more information on my clinics, or hosting one, please visit www.pressureproofacademy.com.

Sep 19, 2020 Area Championships

2020 Area VI Championships Round-Up

This year, the Area VI Championships took place on a sweltering weekend in Ramona, California at the Copper Meadows Horse Trials. In order to qualify to compete in the Area VI Championships in 2020, riders had to earn two MERs at the level at an event in Area VI during the qualifying period from August 1, 2019 to August 18, 2020.

Sep 18, 2020 Eventing News

An Eventer’s Path to Safety During the West Coast Wildfires

Wildfires are currently ravaging the West Coast of the United States. According to the state of California, since the beginning of the year, there have been nearly 7,900 wildfires that have burned over 3.4 million acres in California. Since August 15, when California’s fire activity elevated, there have been 25 fatalities and nearly 5,400 structures destroyed. In Washington wildfires have burned over 626,000 acres, 181 homes had been lost, and one death occurred as a result. In Oregon, over 1 million acres were burned, and about 40,000 people were evacuated, with about 500,000 people in evacuation warning areas.

Sep 18, 2020 Education

Featured Clinician: Tamie Smith

“There are people who want to be right and people who want to get better.” Tamie Smith is one of the latter. A member of the 2019 Pan American Games gold medal-winning team with multiple successes through the five-star level, Smith’s career is propelled by a desire for continued improvement and a commitment to good horsemanship.

Sep 17, 2020 Association News

Statement About Plantation Field International CCI-S

Having this historic competition close isn't the right result for the sport, and the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is working hard to find a solution. The organizer and landowners operate exceptional events on a beautiful piece of land. We are deeply sensitive to the history of the word "plantation" and its connection to slavery; however, this property has no known connections to slavery and was instead named after 'plantings' on the property.

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