Kisses and Kittens: It’s good to be in a safe place, but not so good to stay there too long…

Kisses and Kittens: It's good to be in a safe place, but not so good to stay there too long...


When we feel fear, or lose confidence, or something happens that hurts us – we all want somewhere safe to hide out for a while.

For many of us this is friends, family – or sometimes a forum where we know others will understand our situation, will have felt the same way – and will know exactly what we are going through.

And this is great.  The FIRST thing we need to know when we lose confidence, or have a bad situation – is that we are NOT alone.  Having a safe, warm place where we can get hugs and comfort is very important when we are feeling low, fragile or incomplete.

We need the wounds to our bodies, souls and psyches to heal a bit before we can move on.


If we are lucky, we find that place.   Sometimes we are not so lucky – and we end up in our own spiralling pit of misery.  I know –  I’ve been there.  And if you’re reading this, chances are you have too – -or know someone who has.  That is a horrible experience – feeling at the bottom of the pit, knowing the light is out there, but no idea of how to reach the light – -or even if you DESERVE the light.

But if we are lucky we find a forum, a social networking page, a friend – some place we feel safe.

Most of us want to lick our wounds then move on – how do we do that when it’s so warm and safe there.  That is what this post is about – the difference between safety and stagnation;  comfort and closing down; how not to end up in a world of kisses and kittens that can seduce us into staying safe and scared forever…..


I think we are all used to the idea that people OUTSIDE our safe place might put time and effort into keeping us in there: not letting us out.  The confident person who belittles our efforts to take it slow, the ones who run down our abilities – making sure we stay where we feel incapable and unsure.

Whenever we try to step outside our unconfident box, they push us firmly back in.

How can we handle these people?  I would be interested in your own experiences and how you have kept yourself climbing back to confidence despite the “knockers” – but fundamentally one thing to ask yourself is:  “what is their reason for doing this?  For not wanting you to be confident – and why does it matter so much to them that they are working SO hard to stop it?”

Sometimes just asking that question unlocks your ability to go ahead regardless of them.

Now I am going to make a huge generalisation here – and I realise that – but I will say that based on my own experience – when people make such a big fuss about something – it’s because they themselves have some issues around that something.

I was playing on a cross country course one time, with a small group of us building confidence. We were in an area that had some jumps but was surrounded by trees – a lovely safe area to walk around the jumps, go from tree to tree and maybe even step over one or two of the smaller jumps.  This was on a huge cross country site with many other areas to ride in spread over three massive fields.

As the three of us were building our confidence going from one tree to another, going around jumps, or stepping over them – increasing our trust in our horse’s ability to listen to us, a mother and daughter cantered over to the area.  They rode right into the middle of it and pulled up quite sharply.

The mother asked, in a loud, sharp voice:

“How long are you going to be in here? This is our favourite place to jump you know! ”

I smiled and said, nice and calmly “About ten or fifteen more minutes and we will feel safe enough to head across to that other area over there…..”

Before I had even finished speaking, the mother said, with an angry tone –

“Well, this IS our favourite place and we need to be in here!”

I looked at her – she was tense, and tight.  Her face was braced, and the hand on the reins was pulling back.   Her horse was also braced and tight and looked worried.

What I saw was fear…..

I replied

“OK – no worries, I know how good it is to be in a favourite place to ride – let us just finish a couple of exercises and we will be out of your way and you can have the place to yourselves – won’t take long if you don’t mind waiting….”

As I spoke I saw her shoulders lower and her hands soften a bit –

We did our couple more exercises then headed off.


What showed up as anger, aggression and almost bullying behaviour – was, in my view, a reflection of the fear she felt while up there on her horse.  I can guarantee that she does not think she has any confidence issues – and that is what makes the fear turn into aggression.

Many people outside our safe place, who haven’t acknowledged their own confidence concerns, wobbles and fears will appear aggressive, angry – and almost have a go at us for being unconfident – pushing and almost bullying us along.

Once you realise that this is just a reflection of THEIR issues, and really has nothing to do with you (other than the fact that you admitting your confidence issue and working on it confronts them with that possibility and threatens to make their fear real) – it is SO much easier to withstand them.  Instead of getting upset with them – look at their tension, their tightness – and feel compassion for the fact they are so stuck inside their heads that they don’t even KNOW they have confidence issues….


However, what is worse – and what a lot of people are not aware of – is that sometimes our supporters INSIDE the pit can be as dangerous.

Sometimes it’s the other people IN the safe place that won’t let us leave….


This is far more insidious.  And is often unconscious.  After all, when we have found a safe warm place, and then we see someone beginning to leave us – it is only natural to not want to see them leave…

And this resistance can appear in direct form:

“ooh, I wouldn’t do that”; “are you sure that’s safe?”; “I wouldn’t be doing that yet” – which raise questions in our conscious minds about whether we should be doing these things yet….

Or it can be more indirect:

“you are so brave to be doing that….I couldn’t do it” – which while it sounds supportive, raises questions in our unconscious minds about whether we should be doing it yet….


And in both cases, the person or people doing the resisting might have NO idea what they are doing, or the effect they are having – they might truly believe they are being supportive and caring….

After all, as you know, I believe that we all do the best with the resources we have – so I DO believe that everyone in the pit is trying their best to be their best and do their best for everyone else…


However, the EFFECT of the behaviour can be to trap us in that pit, where we feel safe and secure – and stop us ever finding the confidence and resources to take those first steps out.  We get so used to the kisses and kittens we forget about the soul enhancing joy that lies outside if only we could find a way to take those first steps…

When I thought about this blog, two images came to mind (I am asking a friend if she can do some drawings for this!)

Both drawings start with a group of people sitting at the bottom of a pit in lovely comfy sofas, hugging each other, and lots of kisses and kittens around them all.

In the first picture, one person is leaving, going to the rainbow land above – and every other person is working together to create a human ladder that can be used to safely and easily leave the pit….

In the second, one person is trying to leave, and the others are hanging on to them and not allowing them to make the slightest move upwards towards the rainbow of growth….


Which pit are you in?


And do you know how to be the supporters in the first pictures – and not accidentally become the resistors in the second?


My job is to help you find your way out of the pit – WITH all the love and warmth you found in there coming right along with you on your journey…..


Please, share your stories so we can all learn and grow into our deserved confidence….


Yours, in confidence









14 thoughts on “Kisses and Kittens: It’s good to be in a safe place, but not so good to stay there too long…

    • THanks Margret! Glad you liked it — sometimes I plan a lovely structured article — and sometimes something like this one just flows out from me — and interestingly it is the “flowing” articles that get the most reaction…..

      how interesting


  1. Recently a riding friend and I hauled in to an arena to ride. Part of getting ready was bringing the big ball into the arena (this is a place with a fair amount of toys already). My companion rolled the ball through the gate and a few feet into the arena.

    A boarder was already riding and she cried out: DON’T SCARE MY HORSE!!!

    She is partially disabled with a back deformity/injury and rides hunched over on a Tennessee Walking Horse. Her horse seems quite nice, moves out briskly, but smooth as you would expect for the breed.

    We stopped the ball, and then I put it into a wheelbarrow so it wouldn’t roll. It was clear to me that the boarder was terrified.

    However, my companion bristled at the accusation and began to declare defensively that “this is an open arena, there are often balls here, it would be good to get your horse used to it.”

    I tried to compensate by walking over to the woman, engaging her in conversation, admiring her horse, and then trying to play out of her area. I quietly told my companion that this woman was scared out of her mind and we needed to change our plan for the day.

    The boarder ended up complaining to the arena owner and we were almost banned. The event was described as: throwing the ball into the arena without regard for the horses in there, then telling the boarder that she had no business riding there if her horse didn’t like balls.

    Arena politics aside, the incident could have been avoided by more correctly assessing the state of mind of the person already riding there.

    • Hi Jerre — this is a great story and an excellent example of how good intent can end up causing conflict when we don’t have the resources to change our thinking…….

      I tend to believe that most anger and aggression stems from fear, and that really helps me respond much more effectively in these situations — MOST of the time!

      I still have times when I wish I had chosen differently — but am happy to have the resources to have a RANGE of choices at times like this…..

      Looking forward to visiting with you in this winter!


  2. hmmm very interesting, and i think if i’m honest i would have tried to hold people back with me in the past, mainly so i wouldn’t be alone in my boat! However, after having someone help me find some confidence and tools to get me back out there and remembering just what a great feeling that is i now take much more pleasure in encouraging people to find the same. You cannot beat seeing someone else’s smile :))

    • Hi Julie — and that is the key — if you can make someone else’s victory into your victory then we can all smile and support each other in our growth and development!!


  3. Pride can hold you in that pit too, if you have failed a few times, or fear has its grip on you, the pit becomes a hiding place, it’s scary when you start climbing that ladder, but when the time is right I believe an inner strength can kick pride in the face

    • Ah good point Lynda — that can be a HUGE issue if you have been succesful in your life up to the confidence blip — one thing I have to be very careful about is my own ego and how it can get in the way of my OWN confidence journey — more on that in another post I think!


  4. Great blog Cathy, I know when I see the light at the end of the tunnel I have trouble convincing myself that it is NOT another train coming. Not sure if thats about not feeling worthy; being let down badly; unconfindence; scared to get things wrong or that bloody pride thing!! :). One thing I do know is that I am sure you can help. Looking forward to our session soon Linda xx

    • Hi Linda — really looking forward to seeing you soon!! you are right on target about that light at the end of the tunnel — happens to a lot of us — sometimes its just experience that has given us this reaction — but sometimes it is fear of failure — or, fear of success…….


  5. Great post Cathy 🙂 and so true about how even our closest friends, unknown to them, can sometimes hinder out attempt to climb out of the pit. I’ve also had experiences where I’ve managed to conquer a fear and achieve relaxation and confidence in a new aspect of my horsemanship and whilst people around me have nt said or done anything mean or digrading I’ve found that their dismissive attitude, no well done or wow that’s brilliant just an “oh” and smile can cause me to retreat to my comfort zone. I feel asthough what I’ve achieved is pointless and uneccesary and so in turn I feel stupid and incompetent of doing “the proper stuff”. Looking forward to the next post 🙂 x

    • Hi Emily — its funny isn’t it — we put all that effort and energy into developing ourselves and then, even when we think we have gone beyond the need for external validation, we are disappointed when others don’t have the faintest idea what we have done to and for ourselves!
      in fact, this is another example – -sometimes before people can realise the progress WE have made, they have to face their OWN demons – to accept you have changed and developed and grown means they might have to face the fact that they havent done so — does that make sense??


  6. I have a friend who does this too me frequently, everything I do with my horse she seeks to stop me, or makes a negative statement, it covers buying other horses, loaning companion horses any kind of riding my horse, and if I persist she tells me to have a big whiskey first, or just grit my teeth and do it anyway! I almost class her as a Frenemy ( a friend who behaves more like an enemy!) She is totally terrified of her horses, both established well behaved horses I wouldn’t think twice about getting on. Even my fellow I don’t have many fears with anymore, apart from the hacking, out and leading out and that’s because I am on my own. a friend like this needs to be identified and viewed sceptically, especially if they are the competitive type , as they have their own agenda and often it is too disable you so that they do not feel they should do more than they can cope with at any one time. I keep well away from this friend when making decisions as if I didn’t I would have the horse I know adore nor the satisfaction of the progress I have made, and i would have left my husband!

    • This is not unusual Kate — and you are wise to have some strategies for this already — I have some friends who are wonderful people, but I time my visits to them to make sure that I don’t allow my confidence to be eroded — everyone does the best they can with the resources they have, including me


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