How’s your self talk? You know that constant babble that whirls around inside your head.
Is that voice – your own voice – your best friend or your worst enemy? How you talk to yourself affects how you feel and what you do. When you learn to take control of the ‘thought monster‘ your confidence and your riding will improve.
And you do want to improve your confidence and riding, don’t you? (I thought so.)
Here are 5 steps to help you tame the Thought Monster.
Step 1 – Be aware of your thoughts. The average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts every day. Most of these thoughts do not change from one day to the next. And, about 80% of these thoughts are negative! Most of them focus on the past or the future, obsessing about mistakes we have made, planning ahead or worrying, creating fantasy or fiction. The good news is that when you recognize your thoughts, you can change them.
Step 2 – Write down your thoughts. When you write down your thoughts, you see exactly what you are thinking about and how often you are thinking about it. Notice how often you use words like ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘should’ and ‘can’t’. Also notice how often your thoughts are complaining, whining or judging (yourself or others). Be careful not to beat yourself up or feel discouraged when you see how many negative thoughts you have. We all have them. As Dr. Phil says “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”.
Step 3 – Create a new thought. Take your most frequent negative thoughts and put a positive spin on them. For example, if your self-talk tells you “I’m such a loser! I’m never going to get these transitions right!” Remove the judgment and stop beating yourself up. Try re-framing the thought to a more positive message like “I’m still learning and right now, I’m having a hard time getting these transitions right. What can I do or who can I ask for help to learn how to do them better?” This puts the focus on how you can improve and gives your brain a problem to solve. And your brain likes solving problems.
Step 4 – Become your own cheerleader. It seems to be human nature to have self destructive, negative thoughts. And, we are very good at creating negative stories in our heads about future outcomes. But, you can change your thought patterns so that, instead of focusing on the negative, you can focus on the positive possibilities; instead of being your own worst critic, you become your best support. Treat yourself with the same compassion and kindness you would give your best friend if she were feeling down. Avoid saying anything to yourself that you would not want another person to say to you.
Step 5 – Practice. Practice. Practice. – Retraining your brain is no different to physical exercise. The more you do it, the better results you see. Just like going to your yoga or exercise class, there will be days when you won’t be motivated to do the work of paying attention to your thoughts or replace them with positive messages. The more you practice it, the more natural it becomes. And, you’ll feel a sense of pride for your accomplishment and a sense of control over your life. That creates an incredible boost of confidence!
The Bottom Line – Your brain can only hold one thought at a time. Give it something positive to focus on or a problem to solve. You can feel better about yourself and more confident – today!
Your Turn – What are some of the negative thoughts you have about your riding (I’m sure you won’t be the only one with that thought). Share them in the comments below and I’ll help you re-frame them.
Share this post to spread the word about a better way to work with horses. Enjoy your journey!
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You’re welcome to use this article in your newsletter or blog as long as you notify me and include my credit information: ~ Written by Anne Gage, Confident Horsemanship (www.annegage.com).
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