Whose advice do I listen to?

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice….you knew what you had to do….you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do – determined to save the only life you could save.” Taken from The Journey by Mary Oliver

What’s helped me to be more compassionate to myself and others is to remember that when other people offer their “bad advice”, the chances are that “it worked for them”.  I know that any advice I offer comes as a result of my experience.

 From childhood we are given guidance about the ‘right way of doing things’ and we conform to the ways of our peers. Usually as a teenager we start to question our beliefs and actions and to formulate our own ideas and follow our own path.

 However, for many of us, when this ‘new’ way contradicts our ‘old’ or usual ways and we don’t get support to try something new and listen to or own inner guidance – we find ourselves in turmoil.

 At these times, the more I questioned myself the more people I asked for advice. Then I was given even more opinions of the ‘right way’ to move forward, which simply added to my confusion.

 To be able to take on new ideas, try them, see if they fit and discard them if they don’t, we have to be quite strong in our own sense of self or we have to have a safe, non-judgmental and encouraging environment in which to explore. If we’ve been told what to do throughout our lives and not encouraged to do what feels right for us, this can be a challenge.

 As a coach, I meet a lot of people who believe that I’m going to tell them what to do and give them the answers. But that’s not how it works!  What I love about coaching is that it inspires people to choose a way forward that ‘feels right for them’. This is the first step to strengthening their sense of self.

 An example of what I come across as a riding coach:

 As a riding coach I use a combination of coaching and teaching; I help riders identify how they want to progress with their riding, teach them the appropriate skills and then give them the space to explore the new learning to integrate into their riding.

 Even though there are now a growing number of riders who want to enjoy their horse without going to shows or events, in the riding world there is quite an emphasis on competition.  Some riders have a horse because they want to take the time to build a relationship, ride out in the countryside and simply enjoy their horse and their riding and so it can be a challenge if they find themselves in a yard of riders who like to compete.

What this rider hears are statements like “why don’t you come to the dressage, everyone else is going”, “you should be competing by now”, “you ought to come to the show with me next week”, “you need to ………….”  “It’sa waste to have a horse if you don’t do something with him/her”. These comments come from riders who love to compete and are made with good intentions, but the rider hears “I’m only good enough, or accepted if I want to compete” and they may start to wonder if they should compete!

Riders who are quite confident in their own ideas are happy spending time with their horse, riding out and building up their relationship with their horse over time and are not fazed by these comments.  In fact, they appreciate the good intentions of the other riders and wish them well on their next outing or competition.

However riders who begin to question their own intentions may find themselves being torn in lots of different directions, have lots of false starts and lose even more confidence.

So, how do you make progress with your horse and gain confidence in your riding, in your own way?

  •  Listen to your self – do what feels right for you and your horse.

  • Find a person, trainer, coach, whose way of working with horses, training, riding, coaching you admire and want to learn more about.

  • Find an experienced, knowledgeable person who has the ability to guide you, but who will help you develop your own ideas and your ability to listen to your horse.

  • Integrate the new skills into your training regime and find out if they work for you and your horse. If it feels right follow this path, if not find someone else.

You may have a few ‘false starts’ i.e. start working with someone and it feels right to begin with but then it doesn’t work out.  That’s normal!  Generally, in my experience, when you find someone you enjoy learning with, you develop a relationship and learn from them for some years, before you move on to another trainer/coach as your path evolves.  Or you may have the same trainer for many years; I have several clients who I’ve been teaching for over 9 years!

 So, if you are confused, stuck or at a crossroads here are 3 simple steps to help you be more self-confident and move forward.

  •  Choose someone to support you who will guide you to listen to your own advice

  • Find a safe environment to explore new ways

  • Play and practise

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