I read an interesting post on facebook today. The horsewoman, Mary-Anne Campbell, of the National School of Academic Equitation, who I respect and admire, said “Are you really riding your horse – or are you riding your expectations, frustrations and judgements?”
Her point was that often, when we have a really good ride, or a great moment with our horse, we end our ride there – and then, the next day come back to our horse expecting that same moment again. And, when that moment does not happen – we experience all kinds of negative emotions that lead us to frustration. Here is what she said:
“One interesting thing can be the influence of ambition on the work. When you have a great ride, almost certainly the next day you go in expecting to replicate, or to miss replicating, what you did the day before. When you have a great moment, you want that great moment again. Then you’re not riding your horse, you’re riding your expectations, frustrations, and judgments.
If you are In Each Moment, you’ll find the meltingly perfect ones begin slowly to spin together, one strand at a time, and if you can stay IN Each Moment, you have more moments in a string, then more.
It’s more about training ourselves to have that first one moment of perfect calm, perfectly being with the feeling and the understanding of the feeling, and more about learning to crave that experience of “being there” than it is about teaching the horse to do things differently.
They can walk straight lines and perfect circles, they can half pass and piaffe and pirouette and do all manner of cool things. Can we accompany them?”
And this got me thinking about the things I say about Confidence – and how we, as humans, manage ourselves in ways that often don’t help us build and sustain lasting, solid confidence.
Let’s take Mary-Anne’s words about the horse – and apply them to ourselves:
“When you have a confident moment, then almost certainly you go in the next day expecting to replicate that….you want that moment again… “ which means, just as with our horse riding, we are not in the moment, we are not connected with our real selves, — we are living iwth our expectations, frustrations and judgements
How often have you had a great moment, a great ride – a great day – and you have been THRILLED to feel so confident – and then the next time you go back to that place or situation, that feeling is gone – and you are once again anxious or concerned – that golden moment of confidence is no longer there.
And How do we feel when that happens?
Most of us feel a touch of despair – we feel the loss. The absence and emptiness leadus to imagine we will never have that feeling again and we find ourselves feeling worse after feeling so good than if we had never had that wonderful moment of belief and confidence at all.
BUT: we don’t do this so much with other parts of our lives, do we?
When we have a good moment in a sport, where everything clicks, it drives us to practice more so we can have that experience more often!
When we experience those wonderful moments of congruence, and coherence – in most areas of our lives it inspires us to seek them out again, and keep working on whatever it is that got us there
And yet, with some things this doesn’t happen and instead of being inspired by these “moments of glory” we find ourselves depressed and miserable about the fact we don’t have these moments all the time….
What’s the difference between whether we feel positive or negative about these moments?
Usually, the difference is that these moments excite us when we KNOW WHAT WE DID TO GET THERE…. and we have a strong belief and trust that we WILL be able to achieve those moments again. When I know I have the skill to play a good game of tennis, then I am pretty certain I can replicate what made that last game such a good game for me…. and I know what to practice to get even better.
But what has to be in place for this to happen?
Usually training is about developing our knowledge (mental state) our skills (physical state) and our ability to bring the two together by being calm and relaxed (emotional state) – so for tennis, I have to know how to play the game, have reasonable physical skills – AND be in a good state of mind when playing – if these three things are in place, then I stand a good chance of having some of those lovely moments in a game when everything comes together into that “sweet spot”
If I have ambition to do that – and I “try too hard” then I lose the relaxation, the calm – I start worrying about my shots, and I tense up – that affects the physical skills – and when I start missing shots, I get upset, frustrated – and that affects my mental state and I lose my ability to read the game so well – and it all goes downhill.
So – if this applies to sport, and horse riding – what about applying it to ourselves when it come sto our development of our confidence?
First we need the knowledge: knowing how Confidence Mapping, IDEAS generation, and other resources such as anchoring, working on limiting beliefs etc is the “mental state”. With this knowledge, we have the toolkit to build and maintain our confidence
Then we need the skills: do we have the ability to USE these tools on ourselves – have we practiced using them so they are easy to use in any situation…..
Then, do we have the mindset that ALLOWS us to combine all of this in the moment…
Basically – do we take our own work of confidence building as seriously as we take other things in our lives?
Mary Anne goes onto talk more about this process in horse riding:
“The slower work, done really, really well, brings you to the faster work done really really well. The secret is that the fast work IS the slow work. If you skip it, you may get quick work, but you’ll never get sweet balanced amazing relaxed exquisite work at every gait, and that is the gold standard. Not because it’s “correct” but because my good lord it is mind blowingly amazingly wonderfully exactly what we all dreamed of when we first saw these animals, and they took our hearts. It is becoming one with the horse. And THAT is worth savoring, all the way through.”
With horses, we know if we work slow, savour those golden moments, and stay in the moment with calm relaxation – we will achieve anything.
It’s the same with ourselves: can we stay calm, allow ourselves the time to take things slowly, in a balanced way – to stay in the zone where our mental, physical and emotional states all work WITH us and not against us – and be as amazing with ourselves as we are with our horses….
What are YOU doing to be as amazing with yourself as you are with your horse?
Yours, in Confidence
Link to the National School of Academic Equitation: http://www.classical-equitation.com/
And the original comment that sparked off this article was on a post about dressage by Craig Stevens – you can find him on facebook, and Mary-Anne’s comments here: https://www.facebook.com/craigpswa?fref=ts