Give yourself permission…..

Give yourself permission.....

One of the biggest problems when we feel unconfident – is that we tie ourselves in knots ABOUT feeling unconfident.

We start thinking of what everyone else is doing – or what we were doing this time last year, or before our fall – and we beat ourselves up about how we are feeling.

Isn’t that interesting?


One of the biggest changes I see when I coach people is when I say “well of COURSE you are unconfident –with everything that is going on in your life right now – why  wouldn’t you be?”


And when they hear those words, when I give them permission to feel exactly how they feel, the shoulders relax, the neck eases, and the breathing changes…..


Try that now on yourself – just say to yourself:

“Of COURSE I am unconfident – why wouldn’t I be?  I hereby officially give myself permission to feel exactly how I am feeling!”

Say that a few times and feel the difference in your shoulders, your neck and inside your whole body.



It’s not just with confidence that this happens.  One of the biggest things in counselling is enabling people to ACCEPT where they ARE – instead of kicking themselves for not being where they think (or where they have been told)  they OUGHT to be.


Before you can manage a feeling, work on a feeling – -you need to accept the feeling.


I have already written an article about how accepting your fear helps you become confident…


But this is about MUCH more than that.

There are MANY things that if you gave yourself permission, would make a HUGE difference to your confidence.

Here are just a few I have seen in my coaching so far this year:


1. Give yourself permission to be exactly where you are in your horsemanship journey

So you don’t know how to do flying changes yet?  Or you don’t know how what a renvers is yet?  Or maybe you don’t know what to do to help your horse change his behaviours yet? Or you don’t know how to stop your horse from barging through you yet?

Those aren’t character flaws – -you jut don’t know how to do them yet…

A friend of mine would constantly beat herself up about not knowing how to use a computer – she couldn’t use spreadsheets or presentation software which was getting in the way of her work.

One evening she was saying this again when I stopped her – “Why do you expect to be able to do these things – if you have never LEARNED to do them?”

She sat there, and realised that she had never actually had time to learn these things – she signed onto a course and is not confidently using the software and making her job a LOT easier for herself.


So , if you don’t KNOW something – that is not bad news – it doesn’t mean you are a bad person, or shouldn’t have horses – it just means you need to get out there and find a place to LEARN that something.  Thanks to social networking and forums we have lots of places to go to ask others how they learned these things.


When you hear yourself saying “but I don’t know HOW TO…..” – add the word “YET” on the end – it really changes how you feel, changing something permanent to something temporary

Listen to the difference:

“I don’t know how to handle my horse safely” vs “I don’t know how to handle my horse safely – yet”

That second one has hope.

In that second one you are giving yourself permission to not know everything, and to go learn about things…. how powerful is that?


2. Give yourself permission to have a life…..

Many people I work with are constantly stressed by not being able to spend enough time with their horses.

What is “enough” time?

In the old days when only professionals had horses, yes, they were ridden every day and kept fit and well trained…but seriously, how many of us who are not professionals have the time to do that?

And does it really hurt our horses?

Sure, our horses would learn faster if we spent two hours a day with them – but you know, we have jobs, studies, family, friends – our horses are a PART of our life, not the whole of it.

I haven’t met a horse yet who complained of a few extra hours or days in the field with the herd….

So how about giving yourself permission to have a life?  Sit down and work out what you CAN realistically offer your horses – that might vary between winter and summer of course, so don’t forget that!

When I had the flu, I gave myself permission to give my horses another month off!  And now we are restarting our work together.  Sure we are a month late – but then I don’t remember having a deadline – working with my horses is for my own fun, and there is no deadline on that.

Giving yourself permission to have a life can be a real boost for your confidence….


3. Give yourself permission to decide what YOU want to do with your horse…

How many times have you been asked “So, what do YOU do with your horse?” – as if we need to be eventing, show jumping or at the very least riding every day to make it reasonable to have a horse in the first place.

You know what – if you want to sit in the field in the sunshine and watch your horses – that’s good enough for me.  Give yourself permission to do exactly that.

If you want to groom all day and nothing else – that’s good enough for me.  Give yourself permission to do exactly that.

I bet once you have given yourself permission to do these things you will enjoy them a lot more.


4. Give yourself permission to be feeling exactly how you are feeling–

If you are grumpy, tired, worried, anxious, sleepy – give yourself permission to be exactly how you are

If you are happy, bright, sparkly, bubbly – give yourself permission to be exactly how you are

Once you have given yourself permission to be a human being, like the rest of us (yes we are ALL all of those things!) then you can think about whether you want to stay that way….I usually find hugging a horse helps me make any changes

Pretending we are not feeling what we are feeling, or hiding it – means we are not being authentic, and that bothers not just our horses, but also our own unconscious –

Being true to how we are really feeling can have a very positive impact on our confidence….



5.  Give yourself permission to BE A STUDENT

What do students do?  Are they perfect?  Do they always get 100%?

No, they don’t.

Students try things

They make mistakes – except a mistake is really not a problem, it’s just a try that didn’t work.

And if we make mistakes, or try things that don’t work with our horses – why does it matter?


As long as we aren’t violent, forceful or aggressive – -why does it matter?


Giving yourself permission to TRY, to TRY SOMETHING – will give you freedom…


After all, as one of my teachers once said – -“you have a 50-50 chance of getting it right”


So all I do is set things up to make sure if I am not in that 50%, there is no harm done.


Give yourself permission to TRY, and LEARN from your tries




Finally – -and this is the most important one:




We are all different.  Each one of us has a unique genome – and even identical twins can have different mutations as a result of being exposed to different environmental factors!


So if you see someone else doing something you don’t want to do – give yourself permission to be you – and not do it

If someone tries to pressure you to do something you don’t want to do – -give yourself permission to be you and not do it


When you truly give yourself permission to be yourself, you can listen to anyone, hear anything and it won’t upset you – because you know who you are….  you will be able to take things that will help you and leave things that won’t help you; you will be able to learn, grow and change – on your own terms.


Give yourself permission to be you –


It’s not easy, and it is what I spend a lot of time helping people do….


But it is certainly worth it…..


For you AND your horse



Yours, in confidence





33 thoughts on “Give yourself permission…..

  1. Thank you Cathy, your words have just made me cry! In a good way of course! I had been doing lots of these things and feeling pretty useless to be honest and hearing your wise words has helped me a lot, already and we haven’t even met up yet! Looking forward to seeing you next week. Warm wishes, Julie and Apache. :0)

    • Sorry to make you cry — but glad it was in a good way — sounds like this blog was timely for you…..the article summarises a few conversations I have been having with students recently, and I thought it might be useful….


    • Thanks CindyD – -yes, it applies to SO many things — in the horse assisted coaching I do the fact that horses are so much themselves really helps with people learning to give themselves permission to be who and what they are at that moment, which is a prerequisite for choosing any changes


  2. Expresses my views far better than I ever could, Excellent stuff Cathy……….this works for us all, and for those who already feel confident and self assured, it may help you to understand things from other peoples perspectives.

    • Thanks for the comment Kate and that is an excellent observation about how people who are themselves confident can understand things through this article — I have some students who have shared this blog with their friends and it has made a huge difference to the ability of their friends to be supportive in a constructive way


  3. Ms. Sirett,

    While I enjoy your content, I’m a bit put off by all the blank lines between paragraphs. Having been a professional secretary, this is one of those things that I get a bit nerdy about. Would it be possible for you to eliminate all those extra blank lines?

    Thanks for putting up with me.

    Laurie Higgins

    484-902-0401 (home)

    610-608-7864 (cell)


    From: Confidence Blog by Effective Horsemanship [] Sent: Friday, March 15, 2013 2:16 PM To: Subject: [New post] Give yourself permission…

    Cathy Sirett posted: “”

    • Ms Higgins,

      Thank you for your feedback — and yes, I had noticed that when I write my blog articles in Word and the paste them into the blog the “returns” become big spaces. I think it is part of the blog software, as often more spacing is used ofr online writing vs printed writing.
      I will have a look at how I can change this


  4. We’ve been doing a lot of horse watching recently, letting the herd sort themselves out (seven now and another on the way), watching the foal grow and interact with the herd differently every day as they assess how forcefully to train him. Also watching how the new members find their place in the herd. Folk always ask ‘so what are you doing with them’ the answer is watching, interacting, being part of the herd, joining their family, so much more than just riding (mind you we’ll get round to that too as the weather improves, but it’s not the holy grail that it used to be) how interesting;)

    • Lovely comment Margaret — I often go out to my horses with a plan – and end up just “being” with them… their congruence and welcoming feel is just so lovely I want to spend the time soaking that up!


  5. Thank you for this, Cathy! I needed to see it, because I do beat myself up for the things I CAN’T do with my horses, rather than focusing on the things I CAN do. I was told once that I don’t “deserve” to have horses because of my fear issues, and I have the hardest time letting that go, even though I know deep down that it’s utter garbage. Maybe now I can find the strength to give myself permission to release that ugly thought. 🙂

    • It is a very common thing for people who have fear or unconfidence around horses to be told they shouldn’t have horses — but it is horrible when that “deserve” word comes into play – -after all, you are only unconfident because you dont know what to do to be confident yet — and remember you can always email me if chatting will help you let go x


  6. i recentley bought a young cob after a lot of heartache over a mare i bought and thankfully all sorted. but i was goin to give up at 55 i started very late at 50 . but it was always a dream to be around horses and now im living it. just being with him and watching and learnng with him is awsome. he makes my illness easier to bear. but reading all this makes it even better as i beat myself up bout my illness and not being able to do what i used to for others and myself. . looking forward to more reading thanku cathy x

    • Hi Marie

      Isn’t it wonderful to be bale to live your dream? Today I am taking a friend to look at a horse in the hope of helping her achieve HER dream too — it is very exciting.

      Illness is a difficult one to cope with as it changes what we CAN do, and our expectations tend to stay at what we USED to do — and that is a no-win situation…

      I am glad this post helps xxx


  7. Another great blog Cathy, and will keep what you’ve said in mind.
    I wonder though, even if you can improve your internal confidence by giving permission to your feelings, how do you deal with someone else knocking your confidence? I’ve recently written a long tale on NR about my, *ahem*, adventures in the desert where an instructor called me a bad rider. I know that, in fact, he hadn’t communicated with us at all about how to handle horses that responded differently to the way they do in the UK and actually told him that at the time, but his words are still ringing in my ears. So how do you handle taking the emotion out of an criticism you receive, and deciding if there is any useful information you can take away from that criticism?

    • Lin this is a tough one as it is all about our boundaries and why we give so much weight to other people’s voices and so little to our own — some of the blogs start dealing with this, so have a look at the blog index to see if any leap out at you — the main thing that comes to mind for me is for you to read the Confidence Kidnappers article and do the exercise in there — you will see a difference!


  8. oooooo this one strikes home and just at the right time!! I’d forgotten a lot of this and it was a great reminder. I’m really not too well atm and starting to panic that i won’t be well enough for my lesson next week. What’s this blog done? Reminded me that i can’t change that YET – but beating myself up isn’t working either. On that note, i may just go back to bed – guilt free 🙂

  9. I love this blog. We all are unconfident in some area of our life. Its refreshing to be reminded we are okay where we are. Cathy do you have any suggestions or advise I can give to my friend on how to be her authentic self. I’ve tried to explain to her what I think her authentic self is but she still feels she doesn’t really know. She feels she has always been what other people think she should be and doesn’t know how to find her true self.

    • Hi there – -it is always hard to help a friend — the thing is that many people dont know who their authentic self is – -and so cant “be” it — many of us as children are taught to focus so much on what other people think that we lose sight of ourselves — for me, counselling helped in my mid twenties when I was stuck in this trap – having an independent outsider help you work this out is very helpful…
      THis takes time, so if your friend is a reader, lending her some books that she can work through in her own time will help too

      and she can always email me x


  10. Very timely sentiments! I too cried while reading it as I started to let go of all the negative feelings I came home with today. You could have been talking directly to me. Our new horse is a “space invader” – very different from our other horse and I haven’t managed (yet) to keep him out of my space effectively. I was feeling depressed at how little I am managing to get done with either horse because of the weather and it was great to be reminded that horses don’t actually mind just being a horse in a field – they don’t need permission to “be” them do they? They are not standing there thinking “Oh no! That’s another day I didn’t practise my transitions!
    By the way I quite like the spaces between the lines – they feel like thinking spaces and make the writing more profound.

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