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.

May 24, 2022 Education

Tips for Successful Haul-In Schooling

You’ve likely spent some time scouring the USEA Calendar to line up your 2022 competition schedule. Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to plan some cross-country schooling outings to make sure you and your horse are as ready as possible. If you own or manage a facility that welcomes guests for haul-in schooling, you’ve likely noticed horses and their humans showing up in droves to get their practice in. A successful off-site schooling day has many, many moving parts. From paperwork and payment to safety, these best practices for hosts and guests will help everything go as smoothly as possible.

May 23, 2022 Eventing News

US Equestrian Announces Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for CHIO Aachen CCIO4*-S

US Equestrian is pleased to announce the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the CHIO Aachen CCIO4*-S at CHIO Aachen World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, from July 1-2, 2022. The team will be led by Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello.

May 23, 2022 AEC

AEC Countdown: Less Than 100 Days!

The countdown is on for the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds! This year, the USEA AEC moves to the beautiful Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana. The AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in 2023, so if you have ever dreamed of riding in the Flathead Valley of Montana with views of Glacier National Park, you won’t want to miss this year’s very special opportunity.

May 23, 2022 News

USEA Podcast #310: The Season So Far

USEA Podcast host Nicole Brown is joined by USEA CEO Rob Burk and USEA President Max Corcoran to look back on the highlights of the season so far. From the big five-stars to the road to Pratoni and what to look forward to this year.

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