Overcome Your Fears By Becoming More Curious

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

Rearing Horse

Fear says “Oh no! I’m going to get hurt!’
Curiousity says “What caused him to behave this way? How can I make him feel calmer? What does he need from me?”++–

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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You’re welcome to use this article in your newsletter or blog as long as you include my credit information: ~ Written by Anne Gage, Confident Horsemanship (www.annegage.com).  

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Anne Gage ~ Confident Horsemanship

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8 thoughts on “Overcome Your Fears By Becoming More Curious

  1. This has come at just the right time for me Anne! I have a 4 year old horse, who is usually very calm and responsive. Leading him up to the barn the past couple of days at the ranch where I board has been pretty anxiety producing since they erected an 8 foot windmill device with black snow shovels as the blades. My horse has been absolutely freaked out by it, and I became really scared that I might not be able to handle him, or that he’d run me over in his fear. I actually woke up last night in a sweat, dreaming about his spooky behavior. Anyway, today I’m trying to do as you advise, and think about what I can do to help him through his anxiety, while trying to stop myself from working myself up to taking him past the windmill again.

    • Hi Anne, I’m glad to say the windmill device is no longer an issue at all. Another Anne, who is a great friend and experienced horsewoman helped Bold and me through the issue. Loosen up on the lead rope so he doesn’t feel trapped by me hanging on tight, allow him time to take a look, and gradually get closer. That was her advice and it worked well. It took us about an hour or so one day to patiently get closer and closer until I was touching/ gently tapping the blades of the windmill and he was calmly grazing beside me. It was an excellent learning opportunity for me and I have to say a light bulb went off! What do I need when I’m feeling really anxious? I appreciate support but I sure would hate it if someone was hanging on to me tightly and not allowing me to move if I needed to…..I keep that in mind when ever we come up against scary objects now.

      • Jayne … Thanks for the update. That is good news. You received great advice from your friend, Anne. Love that you made the connection between what you need (or don’t need) when you are anxious and that your horse needs the same from you.

        Your horse has a great name!

        Enjoy the journey,


      • You’re right about his name Anne….at the time when I was searching for the right horse for me, I dithered quite a bit over whether or not I was doing the right thing, and kept telling myself to be bold. ha He and I were definitely destined for each other.

  2. What a great post, Anne! I can see how these tips can be applied to many other situations in life. Instead of staying stuck in fear, simply asking: what if? and how can I? can make us way more powerful. Thanks for this post!

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