‘Your horse is a mirror to your soul’ – that famous line by Buck Brannaman is one that almost every person in the horse world has heard, and probably also felt deeply. When we are connected and in harmony with our horse this idea that we can mirror each other physically and emotionally is pure magic. However, when our relationship with our horse does not align with the expectations that we have set we can find ourselves in a moment of doubt and over time the question of ‘Am I enough?’ can start to become a part of our inner narrative.
Living in our modern world is not always easy. Every day we are faced with messaging about what we need in order to be better, faster, stronger, more precise. We follow our idols on social media and compare ourselves to their perfectly curated feeds and steeds. We are involved in a hobby/sport/world where competition can be cut throat and those with different ideals and training methods can clash loudly. All this combined can create a dangerous concoction of comparison, self-doubt, frustration and sometimes despair.
Am I Enough?
Being a caretaker for my horse is one of my life’s greatest joys but there have been many times when I have hit a roadblock and I start traveling down a road of self-deprecating thoughts. When my horse has had a flare-up from an old injury there have been times when I didn’t feel like I was enough for him, that I didn’t have the knowledge or funds to properly care for his unique condition. This way of thinking shut me off from hope completely.
I still deal with these feelings but now I try to think about the situation with a hopeful lens. Today I would like to offer a few ideas that have been helpful for me when I am dealing with the paralyzing feeling of self-doubt.
Try Something New
We can get so stuck in what we feel that we have to do with our horse that we can start to miss out on the joy of just being with them. Hitting a roadblock can be a good time to try something different. If you are going to the arena every time you get your horse out, go for a walk in the woods, spend some time in the pasture, or try out another enrichment idea. Focus on the relationship instead of the task at hand and come back to it when you are both feeling more relaxed and confident.
Change the Narrative
Odds are these feelings don’t only come up for you around the barn. Feelings of inadequacy are rooted in how we treat our inner child and the messages we replay to ourselves every day. Getting out of the habit of negative self-talk is important to seeing things as they truly are. The first step in changing up the narrative is by noticing it’s even happening. By paying more attention to our thoughts we begin to see patterns and can notice when a damaging thought arises.
We can acknowledge the existence of these negative thoughts and then ask them to please move along. When you first start to pay attention to these negative thoughts it’s easy to feel frustrated that they even exist. By paying attention to our thoughts we can start to try to reframe them into something that can help us move forward instead of ruminating on the past.
Phone a Friend
Talking with a friend can often help us find relief from self-doubt. Finding people who we can share our deepest insecurities with isn’t easy either but most of us have at least someone we can turn to talk it out. You may be surprised to know that your friend may dealing with similar issues or has experienced these feelings in the past. Knowing that we are not alone in our problems takes away so much of their power over us. Low self-worth thrives on us not talking about and letting these feelings see the light, spoiler alert – we all have been there.
Work with a Professional
Finding a trainer that you trust can be so beneficial for your relationship and goals with your horse. No one is too good to benefit from a lesson with a professional. However, be picky and find a trainer whose values align with yours or you may leave feeling worse than when you arrived. You may also find working with a mental health professional necessary to be able to talk through how you are feeling.
Present and Confident
The truth is, our horses don’t care about the ribbons, the accolades, or how many likes your Instagram post gets. They are here in this moment with us. When we begin to entertain the idea that we are not good enough we are no longer living in the present with our horse, we are living inside our own thoughts of what will come or what has passed. We can offer them so much by being present and confident that we are doing the best we can with the knowledge and experience we have.