Have you ever had one of those days where you woke up and you just felt “blah….”
You know those times when nothing’s exciting, you’re not motivated and everything is an effort
If you are lucky a day when you feel like that coincides with a day where it’s miserable and raining anyway or a day when you have to go to work and get paid and it doesn’t really matter.
If you are self employed and work with horses though then it can be a tad different
Also what if you feel blah in the only hour of the day you have to spend with your horses? What on earth can you do about that?
So, “blah” describes pretty much how I felt when I woke up this morning
This time of year is always difficult for me: the change in the weather, change in the light, the prospect of losing the summer and the arrival with the winter where work shifts from being outdoors with individuals to being indoors doing talks with groups etc
I also have the personal matter that at this time of year I am reminded of the loss of a couple of close relatives.
So ok, I have some reasons for it – but as you know I am a beacon of positive thinking in this negative world – so surely I don’t feel blah? Surely I don’t feel negative?
Well I’m human, so I do.
So what can you do to stop those blahs from ruining your winter – your hour, your day, your week your month…
Is there anything you CAN do without denying the fact that this is what you are feeling?
Let’s take a look at something: I read an article recently about Emotional Awareness
“Emotional awareness means knowing what you are feeling and why. It’s the ability to identify and express what you are feeling from moment to moment and to understand the connection between your feelings and your actions. Emotional awareness also allows you to understand what others are feeling and to empathize with them. It is also about the ability to handle all of your emotions without becoming overwhelmed”
You can find the full article here: it’s worth taking a look, although if you head over and read it you will notice that I have a slightly different take on a couple of the points they make
Ok, so being emotionally aware, I realise I am not at my most positive – why does this matter, especially when talking of being with horses?
There are a couple of reasons this matters – and it is usually to do with the strategies we choose for dealing with these emotions.
In the article, the author talks of three common reactions to negative emotions, let’s take a look at these and explore how these might help us
1) Distracting: where we take our mind off the negative emotions be reading, watching TV, fantasising – or doing something completely different.
This can actually be constructive: going off and letting our mind do something different gives us a distance from whatever is upsetting us, and allows us to get some perspective. Many of us know that if we can just get out there for ten minutes, or walk the dog, that our “blah” mood will be blown away and we can get on with our day. Sometimes distracting ourselves helps us find the “RESET” button for the day.
It is worth working out a distraction strategy that works for you – and having that ready to use on your “blah” days….
2) Sticking with a single, habitual response to the discomfort of the negative emotion: you know people who always crack a joke, whatever the situation? That is a habitual response. Again, it might not really matter, but it also doesn’t really make any difference to the mood or situation, so it tends to be a real sign that you or that person is genuinely “stuck” – and would benefit from having some other strategies!
3) Blocking the emotions out: this can be a useful “survival mode” – after all, if I have to do a job, or write an article – and I have no choice, then the ability to block out the negatives and get on with things can be a great skill to have. However, it has a downside: first, it doesn’t change anything, the emotion is still inside me, simmering away and is likely to boil over some where else if I don’t deal with it; second – blocking myself in any way means I am losing my ability to feel – and that definitely reduces my confidence around horses and people….
I have to say I actually have strategies for a blah day. I have strategies for a good day, strategies for a blah day, strategies for when I feel good and the horses feel blah, strategies for when the horses feel good and I feel blah!
Because you know what let’s be realistic here we always hope for the best but let’s accept that sometimes things just aren’t perfect — What do we do then?
To give you an example from today: Today was definitely a blah day – to make it worse the sun was shining!
So I got to the field and I just KNEW that things could go badly wrong if I ignored my “inner blahness”
One thing horses are superb at , and it’s why they are so good in horse assisted therapy – and that is reflecting what is really happening inside you
Horses are the same on the inside as they are on the outside – they have a congruence which is natural to them
I have come across horses who have been blocked form that congruence by various things, and it’s my job to help them work towards rediscovering that, but their natural state is to be congruent – that’s one reason they make such good therapists
It also means they are very good at picking up anything that is not congruent in us.
Think about it: the horse knows the difference between a lion who has just eaten and is walking through the herd with a full stomach – and a lion who is pretending to be full but is actually hungry and scouting out prey – the horse has evolved to know this difference, to know when things are not congruent ….
How do you think a horse feels when we turn up and we are not congruent?
When we’re going “I feel really bad, I feel miserable, I feel down, I don’t feel confident – but I’m going to fake it”?
If a horse picks up on that incongruence it disturbs their natural state of being, it makes them uneasy
Which, of course, we then pick up on – and the vicious spiral of unconfidence begins
What if, though, we acknowledge the fact we don’t feel very good at this moment, or today? What if we admit that to ourselves, and accept it?
And build this INTO our plans for the day? And have plans for things we can do where our emotions won’t affect our horses?
Today, my “blah” strategy included mostly inviting each horse into the play area and playing at liberty. This way I knew my blah – which might lead to frustration – could not lead to me forcing my horses to do anything – also, in playing at liberty, the focus is on positive reinforcement, “can you” games – and fun, so sometimes even if I dot START in a good mood, I can end up in one after playing this way for a while. Sometimes I don’t – but then I have still had a good session with the horses despite my mood…
Other things I have on my “to do” list on blah days – grooming, tail brushing (it has to be done!), general adoration – and any despooking stuff that I can do away from the horses – eg with Coblet I can walk round the field throwing ropes around, that way I am not directly interacting with him, so he won’t be affected by my emotions – but I AM doing something “useful” (which is one thing that helps me feel better!)
As Sylvie relaxes into knowing me, my Blah strategies will include hacking out on her too….
By staying congruent, I know I am not going to “damage” my horses – or our relationship.
By having things to do whatever my frame of mind, I know I am going to progress while staying confident….
And my horses stay confident too
One last thing: I was at a conference with a motivational speaker, whose name I can’t remember or I would link to her, who made a great point. She said “of course we get stressed, we get upset – the thing is, can we give ourselves twenty minutes a day to be REALLY upset and then just get on with things – that way we allow our emotions, and still have a great day. And no, you can’t carry the minutes over to the next day if you don’t use them”
So when I feel a blah or down time coming on, I allow it – in fact, I will even wallow in it for a while. If I deny it, it will just keep trying to come back and then might really get in the way of things I want to do – but if I welcome it, encourage it – and nurture it – for just twenty minutes or, ok, at this time of year it’s sometimes a bit longer (duvet days come to mind) then I find it loses its power over me and instead of spending time stressing about how negative I am, I just AM negative – and then I move on…
I guess in doing this I am being congruent with myself….
And that feels better
So – what do YOU do on your “blah” days to keep your confidence?
Yours, in Confidence