Dealing with Bullies
by Laura Daly
Fearful people feel every negative and/or mean-spirited word directed at them. Even well-meaning friends can hinder progress or shatter confidence. Words that are meant to encourage actually pierce the heart of a struggling horsemen: “Take off the helmet to get rid of fear”; “So, you are finally riding that nag”; “Let me show you how safe your horse is.” These sorts of comments are not helpful; true encouragement is pure, not tinged with negativity.
In addition, while in a fearful state, unconfident riders might interpret statements that are meant to be positive in a negative light. Examine your own words and actions around your horse and around other horse people. Maybe you are your own worst bully? Do the words of others sting because they spoke cruelly, or because you secretly believe the worst about yourself? To overcome fear you need to change your inner dialog and belief system. Learn to be your own biggest fan and cheerleader. To do so, trust in yourself and your ability to create a lesson plan and follow it until reaching the goal of riding fear free.
Begin by recording your inner dialog and feelings in writing. Come back in a day or two and read what you wrote, then try to find a better way of saying the exact same thing in a positive manner. Did you write that you “broke down and bought a helmet/safety vest?” Or did you write about how you “purchased safety gear like the pros wear” or “so important body parts are protected in case of emergency”? Did you write about how you “finally rode outside the round pen,” or that you “rode outside the round pen fear free for the very first time”?
Journaling will also help you identify people who constantly undermine your progress with biting remarks as a way to “toughen you up” or, worse, to hurt you. In those cases eliminate or limit your exposure to those types of people. Instead, find someone who will help you change negative self talk into positive and offer the supportive help necessary to continue the journey to riding fear free.
Published July 2014 Issue