Be kind to yourself — give yourself the space to come up with options to increase your confidence

Be kind to yourself -- give yourself the space to come up with options to increase your confidence

Be kind to yourself – and how having options helps your confidence


I have talked about making friends with your fear, scoring your unconfidence, about being mindful  – and this has helped many people


This week I have been working with people on a Hacking with Confidence course – and it has been a learning experience for me as well.


One reason I love coaching is that every interaction teaches me something – I am a better coach every time.


This week has caused me to ask the question:


What if you CAN’T stop worrying?


I mean I can sit here – or stand next to you and say “don’t worry”  as much as I like – but what if your mind WON’T stop worrying?


Ok, I can suggest meditation, mindfulness, all these things – these all help.


But what if instead of trying to CHANGE our mind – we worked on USING it…..


What if we use that power of your mind to think ahead, anticipate trouble and prepare for disaster – to HELP you be more confident?


Let’s take an example:  it’s windy, and we are planning to ride in the school. We get out there, and as we get on our horse, we realised just HOW windy it is.  Hmm, we know horses are spookier in the wind.  Then, as we ride around the school, we can feel our horse getting tense under us as we get near the corner by the woods, where the trees are swooping and shifting and creaking with the force of the wind.  And WE get tense as well.  Suddenly we realise we are at a 7 or 8 – and it’s not fun anymore.

And we feel we have failed because once again, we are feeling unconfident – look, we can’t even get our horse in the corner of the school!

Even worse, we are letting down the other people around us, if we are like this in the school, then how will we cope on a hack?

And at this point, we start becoming frustrated with ourselves, angry even – we think we are cowards – we need to change how we think, stop thinking about all these things, we over analyse – we are, in fact, just not suited to being with horses.


Well, the first thing I am going to say is – stop it!

Watch this video to “get” that joke  (

You ARE suited.  The fact you are this worried about being a good horseperson means you are suited.

And the facts that you are upset, that you DO think – that you DO care so much about this – means you are on the right track.


All that has happened – is two things:

1. You are not being kind to yourself


2. You need more options



1. You are not being kind to yourself

If someone said to you “I feel anxious about meeting new people”—what would you say to them?  Would you say “pull yourself together, get over it – just do it and stop being such a wimp”

Probably not.  And if you did they probably wouldn’t talk to you again!

It is more likely you would empathise “it can be challenging when you don’t know people, I feel the same sometimes”

You might ask a few questions “what’s bothering you?  What don’t you like?”

And you would probably share some strategies you have found useful for dealing with this: “when I go to parties, I go with someone I know so I feel more relaxed when I get there, then it makes the whole evening easier”

Even if you have never experienced what the person is talking about, you are likely to be empathetic, understanding and come up with some useful ideas.

So here’s a question for you – why don’t we do this for ourselves?

With ourselves here is how it goes:

“I feel anxious about going into that corner today.  Oh I am such a coward, there’s nothing to be worried about – -why am I being such a wuss?  This is SO frustrating, why can’t I stop being so frightened about everything….”

Not exactly being kind to yourself, is it?


Here is your challenge:  can you be as kind to yourself as you are to everyone else?

For a day….

For a week….

For the rest of your life?


If someone else said they didn’t know why they were scared, you would help them work out the reason, not just criticise them, right?

For example, today, we worked out that G was picking up on her HORSE’s tension.

She had thought in her conscious mind that her horse was relaxed – so we did the “do it three times” test:  she rode her horse into the corner once.  Then took her away on a big circle and brought her back, then did it again – on the third time, her horse lowered her head, and blew out – an obvious indicator that she HAD been holding some tension.

So, in this case it was highly likely that G had in fact, been picking up on her horse’s tension, which had, quite logically, led her to feel anxious and worried about going into that corner.



By being kind to herself, giving herself the benefit of the doubt that MAYBE she was picking up some signals from her horse – she was able to find the mental space to think of a strategy that would help her identify if this were the case.


And this is why being kind to yourself comes before the second point – because until you are kind to yourself, you can’t find the mental space to think of more options!


When you are stressed, pressured, above a 5 – you CAN’T think clearly.

Being kind to yourself allows you to bring yourself back below a 5, where now you CAN think, strategise and use your analytical skills to make a better plan….


2. You need more options

The best problem solvers in the business world have one very important skill:  they are good at coming up with options.

The more options you have, the more choices you have – -which gives you more control – and all this leads to more confidence.

Talking to friends, creating a discussion group, going to clinics and watching, watching DVDs or youtube videos, being involved in facebook group discussions – all of these can be sources of some great ideas for options.

And when you are relaxed and in a safe space, you can listen, process, think and choose which ones you will try with your horse.

Here’s an example:

Your horse is scared and worried by something in the hedge alongside the track from your yard. When she goes down there she naps: bending away from the hedge, jogging a bit and clearly wanting to go back to the yard where she feels safe.

This doesn’t make YOU feel very safe, and in fact you know you are over a 5 when this happens, which means WHEN it happens you are not able to think too clearly.

So, over a drink with friends, you bring up the issue – and brainstorm some options.

These could include:

–          Ride her strongly forward (great if YOU are below a 5, confident and sure you are going to reach a safe patch further on where your horse WILL relax)

–          Use small circles or disengaging of the hind quarters to relax your horse – and yourself!

–          Choose a day and play approach and retreat walking along the track until your horse feels tense then coming back to the yard – and doing that, slowly building up how far you go down the track

–          Use other horses to “support” your horse’s confidence until it is not an issue

–          Walk the track with someone on foot to help you “read” your horse

–          Practice with spooky objects in the school or arena so you know you can help your horse relax and so it won’t worry you so much


Suddenly, now you have so MANY options – the whole problem seems more solvable…..

BUT you can only do this if you are kind enough to yourself to admit you are worried, give yourself PERMISSION to be worried – and ask for help and support….


Each one of us is unique.  We all have our own strengths and weaknesses – in fact, even our weaknesses are just strengths that are overdone or not particularly useful in a given situation…what serves us well in one area might not serve us so well in another.

We deserve the same kindness we give to others.


And we deserve to give it to ourselves.


Go be kind to yourself – and notice the effect it has on your ability to find strategies and options – -and on your confidence


Yours, in confidence












7 thoughts on “Be kind to yourself — give yourself the space to come up with options to increase your confidence

  1. Another useful post, thanks Cathy. We had a similar thing happen on our course in Wiltshire. Out hacking my confidence level went above a 5 when Benny started jigging about. The instructor with us just calmly told me to flex him to a stop, breathe and let go of the reins – this released the tension in both me and Benny. We then carried on and he was perfect the rest of the way home. All the people I have as support understand and work on the same scale.

  2. When you put it like that it’s obvious, but yes that is how I behave – doh! I’ll try harder to be nicer to me (and thus to my mate Amigo).

  3. I love reading your articles. They open up my mind and my heart. You really help me learn and grow! Thank you. This specific article reminds me a lot of the concept of Non-violent communication by Rosenberg with its emphasis on selfempathy, the beauty of needs and on realising how many options (or strategies) we have to fulfill them.

  4. Another blog full of wisdom and kindness from an experienced heart, after another setback yesterday it was just what I needed thankyou x

  5. A great way to approach fear. I am ALWAYS alone with my horses, with absolutely no help for anything, I always have to devise strategies BEFORE I play/ride my horses. Just making sure I have one or two options beforehand makes all the difference to my confidence level.

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