I believe a great tool for overcoming fear is developing more curiousity. When you get stuck in fear, you create barriers that fill you with anxiety and prevent you from moving forward, from learning and from growing. You stay stuck in the same place or on the same path. Fear closes you down.
Curiousity, on the other hand, opens you up. You are filled with anticipation and excitement. You ask questions. You learn and you grow. You try different paths. It becomes an adventure.
Your emotions come from the things that you focus your mind on. Allow your mind to focus on negative thoughts and to create stories about possible negative outcomes and you feel fearful. Give your mind something else to focus on and you change your emotions.
For example, you can focus on the ‘what if’s’ of a certain situation. What if my horse bucks
or bolts or rears or kicks me? Your mind will try to protect you by warning you not to put yourself in danger. It will create the worst case scenario – if you let it. But if you ask a question like ‘how can I’, you change your mind’s focus. You’ve given it a problem to solve in a more positive way. Your mind wants to give you answers – that’s its whole purpose.
So, try this. What is the ‘what if’ question that your mind usually asks when your fear is triggered? Write it down and then write down all the things that flow through your mind. Don’t censor yourself. Just let it flow and get it all down on paper (or your favourite electronic device if you prefer). Keep writing until there is nothing left to say. Notice how you feel while you are doing this exercise.
Now, ask yourself a question about ‘how can I ….?’ For example, how can I make sure my horse isn’t going to buck? Write it down. You might have to sit with this for a while. Be patient. If anything comes to mind, write it down. If your mind tries to go back to ‘what if’ just calmly tell it to stop and focus on ‘how can I’. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get an answer write away. Carry on with your day. You’ll probably get an answer when you’re not thinking about it. Write it down whenever it comes to you. Notice how you feel when you are focusing on the question and when you get an answer.
When I was working through my own fear issues, I became more curious about my horse’s body language – were there any subtle cues he was giving that I might have been missing. I paid closer attention and developed more awareness. I became more curious about what was happening in my mind and body when my fear was triggered. I became more curious about what triggered my fears. I kept peeling away layers, learning and growing. I developed skills to help manage my fear.
What would happen if you replaced fear with curiousity? I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Watch for my book coming soon – “Confident Rider, Confident Horse: Build Your Confidence While Improving Your Partnership with Your Horse from the Ground to the Saddle”
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Anne Gage ~ Confident Horsemanship