I was reminded yet again about breaking down difficult challenges into smaller pieces. I know this, but constantly seem to forget it and just become overwhelmed. Yet this single piece of advice is constantly reflecting through my life. In work, at home, in relationships, in anything that requires training – horses, dogs, children, husbands…whatever the issue is, if you break it down it will become manageable.
Your boss gives you some seemingly mammoth task (bosses love doing this!), break it down into small pieces, tackle it one piece at a time. You need to teach your child to tidy their room, break it down, first put away the books, and then the clothes, suddenly each job becomes doable, and our stress is swept away.
You wouldn’t expect your horse to be able to a half-pass unless you had broken down the exercise into steps? So why do we expect ourselves to be able to do things without breaking it down into steps? In order to teach the half-pass we first need a balanced trot or canter, we need a good leg yield, a good shoulders-in and quarters-in, only once we can move all the legs of the horse, can we add all the pieces together and ask for a leg yield.
Don’t do the same with yourself, don’t ask for a leg yield without having learnt the component parts. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Set yourself up to succeed! If you spend time on the building blocks the rest will follow. If you are finding something difficult stop and think, can I leg yield before I half-pass, can I walk before I run? We wouldn’t do it our horses, so don’t do it to ourselves. Give yourself the optimum conditions to succeed, don’t send yourself off to do a medium dressage test when you are working at novice level at home. Be kind to yourself, as you would to others…
It’s okay to find things difficult. The world is tricky at the moment and it is okay to feel that. There was a meme going around about enjoying time with your children and spend time baking or gardening, you might have seen it. This is all well and good, but all it actually does is make parents feel guilty. All we should do is be kind to each to other. Maybe some people find the structure generated by school suits their children better, lots of people are still being expected to work from home while home schooling, which is entirely unrealistic. You may as well try and email your boss while doing a canter halfpass! Most people aren’t worried about their children not learning, they are worried about them not learning social skills, not seeing their friends.
Now more than ever we need to be kind, but not only to others but ourselves. If you wouldn’t say it to another person why would you say it to yourself. The world is challenging and it is okay to find it so. Telling people to be positive can be undermining, can make them feel their response is not valid. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to realign your expectations. Remember what you see online is a snippet of other people’s lives. For every positive post people put on you have no idea how much of the day they have spent sat on the floor crying and eating chocolate biscuits.
Don’t judge your life against other people’s social media posts. The world is difficult it would wrong to expect yourself to be unaffected by the circumstances. Be kind, realign your expectations, be kind, eat biscuits, be kind, hug your ponies, be kind, ring your friend, be kind. This too shall pass
Do you ever feel overwhelmed? I’m sure you do, everyone does. Remember you can’t “see” that someone is overwhelmed. That woman on your yard with 3 children and 4 horses and a job, who remembers people’s birthday – you have no idea how she feels inside. She might be a panicking mess of overwhelming thoughts and spend every morning crying before she starts her day. That lady down the other end with one horse and no family, who from the outside might not seem to have any reason to be overwhelmed. She suffers from an anxiety disorder, and getting through a day is like wading through treacle, she always feels overwhelmed.
Everyone experiences the world differently. We have no idea what other people are going through. But we can deal with our own feelings of being overwhelmed will still being kind about others.
Indeed one of the first steps is to realise that other people feel like this, that you are not alone. The second is to breathe. Running round like a headless chicken won’t help. Take a moment to sit down and work out your priorities. I know you feel like you don’t have time to sit down, but working out a list will make your world feel more ordered, more under control.
Sometimes on a bad day, I add to my list things that I have already done and then tick them off so I can see that I have accomplished things! Whatever works for you…
Look at your list, you probably don’t need to do some of the things on it, or certainly not today, so cross them off, make the list bearable. Then start with thing that is stressing you out the most and do that. I operate better in the mornings, so always try and do stressful things in the morning, leaving the afternoons for the easier, more mundane tasks. But you might find yourself more productive in the evening.
Whatever way you get things done doesn’t matter, just do them one step at a time. If you look all the way down the list, or all the way up the mountain you will feel overwhelmed. If you just take one step and then another, soon those steps will all add together to a great distance, a great achievement.