I have been preaching for almost a year now that if you want different results, you have to start with your thoughts. I had to really swallow my own medicine two weeks ago like never before.
I am exhausted and my body hurts and I failed miserably to show up like I needed to in order to have a successful Western Dressage show.
I can literally trace my thoughts back to more than two months ago when Kit stopped sweating and acquired the most amazing rain rot due to the relentless humidity.
We couldn’t ride, she looked like crap.
Even though we got past all of the obstacles, I was clearly carrying a baggage of negative thoughts and emotions about all of it!
It showed. It showed in how I showed up as a competitor. It showed up in how I trained leading up to the show, it showed in how I managed my time and how I prepared.
I was actually hoping for a better showing. WHAT???? Hope is a horrible strategy in the dressage arena.
Sure, I worked out and studied the tests, went through a lot of the motions I normally do but not like a winner. I did it like I had quit ahead of time.
• This is our first show in Florida.
• I don’t know anyone.
• We have never been to this arena.
• We have not been able to ride like we normally do.
• We have been through a lot in 90 days.
• There is no reason to think we have a chance.
All of these thoughts seem so benign, like they don’t really mean anything. They seem almost factual…almost.
The truth is that none of these thoughts were useful, at all, and all of these thoughts took hold and for sure my results proved all of these thoughts to be true.
Circumstances are neutral…they are neutral until you think about them. It’s very important to separate your thoughts from your circumstances. That is a key first step to the process. See if you can pick out the thoughts from the circumstances in my list above and then come right back here.
“This is our first show in Florida, we have never been to that arena were the only circumstances.” The rest were all thoughts and it is important to understand that thoughts are optional. Meaning, you get to choose the ones that serve the results that you want. Your thoughts bubble up the emotions that you feel. Scared, nervous, anxious, excited, lonely, etc…Your emotions become the fuel for the actions that you take or the action that you don’t take. Of course, your action or inaction drives your outcomes and results.
It’s so critical to separate your thoughts about your circumstances from your actual circumstances. Let’s make it easy. Circumstances are just facts, not the drama, just the facts. Circumstances can be proven in the court of law. “This is our first show in Florida” is true, can be proven, it’s a fact. “We have not been able to ride like we normally do” is a thought about my circumstances but it’s not fact, just a thought. Now, I might believe that it’s a fact, but it’s not, it’s just a thought. When I think that thought, “I feel unprepared.” I feel unprepared. My actions were that I trained like I was not preparing, I show up small like I don’t want to be seen and when I show up small my result is that we didn’t show like we normally do. We are normally smooth and very connected. We were not. We were jiggy! Here is what it looks like in the thought model:
Circumstance: Moved to Florida 90 days ago.
Thought: I have not been able to ride like I normally do.
Action: Didn’t train like we normally train, showed up small.
Result: We did not show like we normally do.
Do you see how my thought was proven to be true? This is everything people. This is the formula!
So here is the lesson…
When we fail miserably, and we will, we need to look for the lesson, find the teacher.
If we are not failing we are not growing, and we are not living the human experience.
To be living the human experience we have to feel it all. The fear, the anxiety, the doubt, all of it. We have to feel it and know that we are going to be OK. We need to feel it and then ask where the thought causing the feeling is coming from. What is it? We need to call it out, identify it and then change it.
You see, if the thought that you are thinking is not serving you then you need to find a thought that will. You have 70,000 thoughts swirling around up there, surely one of them will serve you better.
Our brain actually wants us to land on the negative one, my brain wanted me to not go at all. I waited until the last day to enter. I normally enter a month ahead of time. Our brain has a negative bias. It will direct us to the evidence of all of the negative thoughts. That’s what has kept up alive and evolving for thousands of years.
Your brain does not know that you aren’t really in danger that you are just afraid to drive to a place you have not been to before. Your brain thinks that is too risky and should not be done, it thinks there might be danger lurking.
My brain went nuts with stinking thinking. Guess what kind of results you get with stinking thinking?
I learned a lot. Failure can teach us a few things if we are open to showing up as a student.
I learned that I need to clean up my thinking, I need to eat right, sleep more and drink less. I need to train better and most of all, do the thought work until it’s a core belief.
We get really good at whatever we practice the most.
That weekend I practiced being brave. That sounds so nice doesn’t it? But think about it. In order to be brave and courageous you have to be experiencing fear and anxiety first.
It’s about being in that moment where you need to decide the thought that is going to serve you because your brain is serving up all of the evidence that you should quit and go home, start crying and just throw in the towel.
Your brain wants to prove your thoughts true so let it, but find another thought.
Here is a thought model for my future self:
C: We just moved to Florida 90 days ago
T: I am excited to get plugged back in to the sport I love so much
E: Excited, energized
A: Train right, eat right, do thought work
R: I will get plugged back in to the sport I love so much!
Decide on the thought that will make you feel brave and bold and courageous. Practice that, over and over and over. Soon, a new more useful emotion will surface and become fuel for action which will drive outcomes.
Now, go be a goal setting, goal getting, goal digger!!!!