Sep 21, 2021

Pressure Proof with Daniel Stewart: Forget the Regret

USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

We all strive for greatness. Regardless of your age, level, or discipline; your horse and sport are just too important for you to give anything less than your best. But what happens when mistakes or missed opportunities interfere with your ability to achieve that greatness? What happens when disappointments make you mess up or feel let down? Well, for most riders the answer is simple. Regret.

Regrets happen when you give 100% but it’s not good enough - when you do your best but your best isn’t enough. It happens when you should’ve done something different, should’ve done something better, or should’ve beat someone else.

As you can see, regrets live in a world full of should’ve and that’s a pretty dark place to live because it is there that you feel like you’ve messed up or let yourself down. It’s the place where you feel like your emotions are controlling when you wish you could be controlling them. The first way to start regaining some of that control (and remove the regret) is to simply eliminate the word should’ve from your vocabulary.

There are two people inside you right now (don’t worry, it’s only a metaphor) and they control whether "regret" and "should’ve" will play a role in your riding. Your realistic self is when you define yourself realistically (strong yet imperfect), set realistic goals (challenging but attainable), and hold realistic expectations (successful with a few bumps along the way). Your unrealistic self is who you become when you think in terms of should’ve because it causes you to define yourself unrealistically (I should’ve been the best at everything), set unrealistic goals (I should’ve done everything right), and hold unrealistic expectations (I should’ve won everything). Unfortunately, your realistic self knows it’s incapable of achieving unrealistic expectations so regrets are almost always the inevitable outcome.

Having said this, one mild form of regret can play a role in your development as long as the word should’ve doesn’t enter the conversation. This form of regret (called positively perceived regret) is the kind that makes mistakes memorable enough to motivate you to make a change. Instead of blaming the mistake on the wind, footing, or judge, (the should’ve) these regrets give you the "I've had enough!" moment that motivates you to make whatever change is required to right the wrong.

Most regrets lock your focus on problems from the past instead of on creating positive things in the present, so here’s a four-step program that can help you to get better (not bitter!) when dealing with upsetting regrets:

(1) Pause - Take a deep breath and stop everything. Regrets make you tight and frustrated so identify those feelings and remove them for a least 10 seconds.

(2) Pose - Striking a confident posture releases feel-good hormones that improve your courage and optimism. Try standing confidently tall in front of your horse while holding his head to yours.

(3) Prose - Repeating a meaningful mantra like “what doesn’t break me makes me stronger" helps your brain reinterpret the disappointment as a building block rather than a regret.

(4) Place - Designate a safe location free from all judgment and regret. This is your no-regret-place, the place where you pause, pose, prose and the place where you go to lose your should’ve.

So, the next time you begin to feel a little regret rising up inside you, or the next time you hear yourself uttering the word should’ve, why not give pause, pose, prose, and place a try and always remember, never worry about the should have. If it should have, it would have!

I hope you enjoyed this month's Pressure Proof tip. If you’d ever like to speak with me in person just email me at [email protected]. Beginning this month I’ll be re-starting my private phone consultations and I’m certain you’d find them both enjoyable and beneficial!

May 27, 2024 Eventing News

A Trip Down Memory Lane with the U.S. Olympic Event Teams of Years Past

The hype around this summer’s Olympics in Paris, France, is building with each passing day! In preparation for the summer games, which take place Friday, July 26, through Sunday, August 11, we decided to take a walk down memory lane and revisit the performances of the U.S. eventing team at the Games in years past.

May 26, 2024 Eventing News

How Foxhunting Paved Melanie Smith’s Path Up the Levels of Eventing

“I always say that my secret weapon out competing is bad weather and bad footing,” said Melanie Smith. Though the Georgia-based rider is a competitor by nature, having completed three 50K Ultramarathons, it was a non-competitive sport that made the most profound impact on where she is today. Decades of foxhunting taught her to trust her horse, fine-tune her cross-country skills, and navigate tricky conditions.

May 25, 2024 Eventing News

Caitlin Silliman: The Roller Coaster World of Eventing

As both an eventer and business owner, Caitlin Silliman is well aware of the need for a solid team behind her. Not only has she had supportive family and friends cheering her on, she has ridden and worked under top-notch professionals such as Susie Beale and Silva and Boyd Martin, and now runs her business side by side with her good friend and fellow eventer Erin Kanara at Erin’s farm in Pennsylvania, the state Caitlin has always called home.

May 24, 2024 AEC

Three Months Until the Start of the 20th Anniversary USEA American Eventing Championships

The 2024 United States Eventing Association (USEA) American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds is just over three months away, which means it is time to start planning your trip to Lexington, Kentucky! For the second year in a row, the AEC, which is brought to you by the USEA and its organizing partners at Equestrian Events, Inc and Mary Fike, will return to the iconic Kentucky Horse Park from Aug. 27 to Sept. 1.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA