Stuck in your head?
Recently I have been dipping my toes back in the water of the hunter/jumper world, filling in for a couple of other trainers. Before the first couple of lessons I taught I found myself getting stuck in my head, worrying about what the clients would think of my lessons and wondering if I was good enough. Being familiar with the work of Brene Brown I quickly realized the good enough thoughts were related to vulnerability as I stepped into doing something I hadn't done for a number of years. Through my self awareness I was able to bring myself into the present moment and have a great time teaching. It turns out the students felt the same way!
Not only did I get positive feedback about my lessons but as the lessons progressed over a period of weeks I received some other feedback. That first day while I'd been worrying about what they would think of my teaching, they had been worrying about what I would think of their riding. It was a great reminder that we're all human and we all get stuck in our head sometimes. Therefore it seems like a great time to share a little excerpt about horses, ego and the false self from my book If Your Horse Could Talk:
Who I Am versus What I Do
As I started on a journey to learn more about my self and the joy that horses bring to me, I began to realize how much of “who I am” is tied up in being a horse person. I also realized how often being a “horse person” causes me to put judgements and expectations on myself that actually disconnect me from horses and the joy they bring me. The concept of ego or false self, a concept that is unique to the human species, is extremely relevant in working with horses.
Understanding my false self is priceless in my work with horses as well as in every other area of my life. I have taken numerous seminars and courses that discussed the topic of false self, also referred to as the image I present to the world. I was able to recognize many aspects of my false self personas as well as understand how “what I do” is often wrongly identified as “who I am.” While I understood the concept of mistaking “what I do” for “who I am,” it wasn’t until I attended my first Epona Approach workshop that I gained a deeper understanding of how it related to me.
Epona Approach workshops are self-development workshops for horse people and non-horse people alike. Horses are present in the capacity of teachers, nothing more. As I interacted in an environment that forced me to step out of “horse trainer” mode and into just being with horses, my false self persona of “horse trainer” became very apparent. I realized how much I identified being a horse trainer with who I was. I also recognized that the majority of the time that I encountered major resistance from a horse or when things went “badly,” I was getting concerned with what people would think of me as a “trainer.” As I aligned with my false self and became caught up in the image I was presenting to others, I became incongruent. This left little clear ground for the horse to communicate with me on. Just by being aware of my “horse trainer” false self, I am able to catch myself slipping into it much sooner and bring my focus back to the present moment.