Riding Fears? STOPP!

| August 16, 2010 | Reply
| August 16, 2010

Loss of confidence, panic attacks, no longer believing in yourself – all this and more was covered in my expert interview as top psychologist and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) practitioner Wendy Dignan gave her advice on confidence problems. I discussed with Wendy the help that’s available out there, why people lose confidence, how to deal with panic attacks, fears resulting from accidents, general loss of confidence, and other insights into the workings of our minds.  You can listen to part one of the call on the Resources page of my website.

stopsighBWWe talked about the CBT approach to fears and loss of confidence and, like me, Wendy recommends reviewing your situation and then finding effective strategies to help you move on.  In my experience, dwelling on what’s wrong and how it all happened only serves to make your negative feelings and thoughts more powerful.  By all means revisit what went wrong, but only to see what you can learn from it.  This will help you to change your thought processes and behaviour to reduce the possibility of it happening again.  Review what happened.  What did you do to make things more likely to go wrong?  What could you change to make a positive outcome more likely?

When you’ve identified a more positive strategy, make sure you try it out next time.  Mental rehearsal will help you to programme this new, more positive strategy in so that, when faced with a similar situation, you automatically know what to do.  Mental rehearsal is easy:  at its most simple, it’s just like daydreaming!  Imagine the situation where you want to change how you react.  What do you want to change?  Then imagine everything happening just as you’d like it to.  Imagine your thoughts, what you’re saying to yourself, what you’re doing physically.  Make sure it feels right to you.  If anything doesn’t feel quite right, just edit it out and put a better bit in.  Practice this strategy regularly for a week or so.  You’ll become so used to reacting in this new, more positive way, that when you meet the situation for real, this will be your automatic reaction.

So, you’ve revisited what went wrong and learned what you can from it.  Now leave it alone.  Don’t  think about it, don’t blog or post about it, don’t talk about it.  One of my clients told me recently that, since being introduced to this way of thinking about things, she had noticed how very negative most horsey people are.  Be honest.  What do your and your friends talk about?  Falls, near misses, accidents, being run away with, getting bucked off…  It’s true, isn’t it?  How often do you hear horsey people talking about what a wonderful ride they had, how sweet and generous their horse is, how much they love riding?  No, it’s the negative stuff that people focus on.  If you have confidence issues, this negative focus will just build your fears.  Your negative thoughts will become more and more powerful.  So do yourself and your horse a favour and turn this around.  Focus on what’s good in your life.  Banish thoughts of the stuff that disempowers you and makes you more fearful.  Stop feeding your fears by talking or writing about them.

Here’s a tip from Wendy to help you handle stressful situations and get risks into perspective.  Don’t let your negative imagination run away with you:  STOPP!

  • S – Step back.
    • Don’t react immediately.
    • Wait.
  • T – Take a breath.
    • Slowly breathe in and out a couple of times.
  • O – Observe.
    • What am I thinking about?
    • What am I focusing on?
    • What am I reacting to?
    • What am I feeling in my body?
  • P – Pull back.  Put in some Perspective.
    • Zoom out!  See the bigger picture.
    • Is this how it REALLY is?
    • What would others say about this?
    • How does this affect others?
    • How important is this situation right now?
  • P – Practice what works.
    • What’s worked for you before – in this or another situation?
    • What’s the BEST thing to do?
    • Consider the consequences.
    • Do what will help the most!

You can use this process in any stressful circumstances:  it’s not just for riding.  Next time you’re faced with something you find stressful, use STOPP to help you keep calm and get things in perspective.  Remember, we are what we think!

About the author:

Caroline Putus has more than 15 years’ experience as a confidence coach, homoeopath, NLP practitioner, healer.  She is a lifelong horsewoman.  She teaches very practical self-help confidence skills drawn from a wide range of approaches to help riders regain and maintain their life and riding confidence.  Enjoy Riding clients include Merseyside Mounted Police and professionals, through to weekend riders.  You can access Caroline’s help in a variety of ways, both in person and online.   For  free tips and videos on riding confidence, visit www.horseridingconfidence.com or telephone Caroline on +44 (0)1394 448787 for more information.

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About the Author ()

Cindy Corwin is the CEO/Owner of Horse Family Magazine and is specifically interested in giving back to equine communities and bringing families closer together in their love of horses.

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