The first action to take is to throw away our preconceived notions of what we should be doing, or what we want to be doing and instead concentrate on what we can do. If we are always yearning for something else, we forget to enjoy what we have. After all if we are not happy with what we have, why do we think we will be happy with more?
The world is often difficult and even more so at the moment. So adjust your expectations and your threshold for happiness will change also. If your reduce your aims while life is challenging, you are more likely to reach your objectives and then feel satisfied. Setting yourself up to fail, doesn’t get you anywhere.
If you are struggling with stress and anxiety at the moment, don’t expect your riding to be calm and measured. You will only end up beating yourself up over it. Reduce your expectations. Now might not be the best time to try and teach your horse half-pass, instead do the things you both find easy, so that you end your schooling session smiling.
It doesn’t matter if you put back your desire to a medium level dressage test for another 6 months, in the grand scheme of things at the end of your life you are not going to lie there thinking about the fact that it took you a year longer to move up a level than you had planned. Remember the 5 rule. If it isn’t going to worry you in 5 years time, don’t spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it now.
Life can be difficult, but it can be rewarding and entertaining and enjoyable, and even if it the moment we have to look a little harder and a little deeper to find the pleasure in the moments, they are still there…
…and I’m not just talking about your joints! Flexible joints are great and definitely worth working towards for both our riding and our general well-being, however a flexible mind is a fantastic thing to aim towards.
A flexible mind means that you can cope with the unexpected, roll with the waves. A flexible mind makes you adaptive and gives you the ability to respond intelligently to change. A flexible mind gives you a brilliant tool to cope with the changeable nature of the world.
You had planned to go for a hack on Sunday. You had decided on the route, and really wanted to do it, but then you looked at the weather forecast. It is forecast to be really windy. An inflexible mind thinks “but I’m going for a hack, because that is my plan.” This could lead to all sorts of disasters, such a scary hack, a spooky horse, loss of confidence. A flexible mind might think, “how annoying, never mind, why don’t I go some ground work instead.” This approach means that you have a good session with your horse despite the inclement weather and then the following weekend when the weather is better, you have a nice hack.
You can see the effects of an inflexible mind and the problems it can cause. Whereas a flexible mind allows you to adapt better to changing circumstances. And remember that flexible thinking is a skill, so can be learnt. If you just read that and thought “I can’t do that!” that is a great example of an inflexible thought!
If you think being more mentally flexible would help, here is a link to an article about it (click here). Remember small changes make all the difference, we can’t transform ourselves overnight and also we are all doing the best that we can do, so that we can be the best versions of ourselves.