I’m going to warn you, this one isn’t just about horses…
I’ve been on a war path lately about doing some major renovations on our house and harassing my husband with my new Pinterest projects. One evening after sharing another project with him, he looked at me and said “You are never satisfied with anything”. His comment had no ill will it is actually just a true statement about my personality. I have an insatiable craving for perfection and a constant project.
Once I get one piece of my life sorted I begin to look for the next one to focus on. Now this personality quirk could be easily shed in two different lights. The positive side is that I believe it is a trait found in the most successful members of society. On the other hand I think it is easy to get caught up and never truly know contentment. It is like an unquenchable thirst, an addiction.
I would bet any amount of money that most of those who have been very successful have this drive, along with that I think it also an affliction to many equestrians. When I look at all my friends who have been bitten by the horse bug I notice so many parallels in our personalities that it is sometimes frightening. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak but at least I have strong thighs right? Still waiting for them to turn to Carrie Underwood legs though...
This sport is more to us than most athletes and because it is everything to us we constantly want to be better at it. And let’s face it, it takes time and some really hard work for the average person to be a good rider. It simply doesn’t happen, it’s why we spend every free hour at the barn perfecting our craft (or avoiding our dirty house, just me? okay…) .
I can say I’m never pleased with my riding - that sounds harsh I know. I have good rides, rides where my horse is right where I want her and we get the distances to the fences but I always walk away thinking about what I’m going to work on next time…Isn’t it the same thing that applies to every day life? We have good days, of course, but is that voice always in the back of your mind thinking what you would change or improve.
These changes or improvements don’t have to be things or money, that isn’t what I am referring to it could even be things like more time to work out or perhaps a job change. If you are an Ariana Grande fan you know the lyric “whoever said money doesn’t solve your problems must’ve not had enough money to solve them was right”. The desire for more money or resources is something hard wired in us I believe.
So how can we over this mentality? How can you find contentment? Whoa, loaded question. I think it is different for everyone but I’ll share some of my new found mental health habits with you.
Start journaling your gratitude. Buy a journal and each day right one thing you are grateful for. If you have trouble finding one, take 15 minutes and mediate for some clarity. If I struggle with this practice I’ll close my eyes and the first place my mind goes to I’ll write down or follow that line of thoughts.
Another shift is change your self talk, instead of negative self talk especially on those areas you want to improve remember one thing that went well or you have noticed has improved. For example, my statement above that I’m never that pleased with my riding, instead think of saying my eye is getting much better at seeing distances and my horse’s trot felt round and collected.
This third step isn’t going to make sense but pick one thing that you do want to focus on. But here is the catch, make it something easy to accomplish in the next 3 months. For example my house renovation, instead of thinking I’m doing my entire house instead I’m going to think about just working on my office first. In regards to riding this shift would look like instead of thinking I’ll be going out and showing 3ft this year I want to get my confidence up in the 2’3” or 2’6” divisions first. I also think of this in three separate categories: work, personal, and riding.
By breaking it down like this it makes it easy to not only accomplish but you save your mental health a little in the process. I hope these tips were helpful and I’d love to hear in the comments if you have similar issues with being content and any tips you have for how you mange it!
Meet the Bloggers
Miranda and Julia bringing over 20 years of experience in the horse industry in a wide variety of experiences and disciplines. Here on this equestrian blog we'll share our horse experiences, tips, plus advice on surviving as an adult amateur rider.