Letting Go of Your Emotions — Fight, Flight or Freeze
The past couple of years with my horse, Kenney, have been a struggle. When I found him online after 10 years of being apart, I was thrilled! It took 6 weeks, a test ride and a sound vet check, but when the day finally arrived for Rob and I to go pick him up and bring him home to Lubbock I was so excited I could hardly even breathe.
In so many ways, having Ken in my life again was exactly what I had imagined it would be, but after 6 months of riding him on my own, not doing much of anything, I knew I was ready to get plugged in with a trainer and really start riding Dressage again.
That decision unearthed all kinds of emotional trauma in Ken that had not been evident before. At some point in the past 10 years he had been treated unfairly, ridden wrongly, had scared others and had been scared himself.
Bringing him back to the point where we could do any “real” work with him took hundreds of hours and a ton of patience. We were making progress, but it was slow and tedious. A few months ago we finally reached the point where we had more good days than bad ones, but every day was a like a game of Russian Roulette… you’d either hit the jackpot or go home broke.
Fast-forward to 3 weeks ago. We had a trainer from Ireland visit our barn, and after 3 lessons where the name of the game was nothing but “survival” (on my part AND Ken’s), she asked if she could do some emotional release body work on him in attempt to relieve the major sense of chaos she felt was going on in his body.
You can laugh at that if you want. I’ll admit, I kind of did. But I agreed to let her try… after all, if it didn’t work we would be no worse off than we already were.
Now, 3 weeks later, I can confidently tell you that I feel like I’m riding a different horse! He’s still Kenney — a very strong, energetic, talented but challenging horse, but the new sense of calm in his mind has allowed us to channel that strength and energy in a positive way that was nearly impossible to do before.
The trainer who worked on him said she felt she had been able to access emotional baggage Ken had been living with for most of his life… as in crap he had been carrying around for 16 or 17 YEARS!
Again, laugh if you want, I know I did! But all the proof I need is standing in a pasture about 2 miles down the road…. and it’s got me thinking….
If horses are capable of allowing emotional baggage from the past affect their talent and potential, then how much more so may we, as human beings, be doing the same thing?
How many experiences from your past are you allowing to stand in the way of the future that should be yours?
How many times have you allowed the negative self-talk in your mind to discourage you, worry you, cause you anxiety, not based on something going on in the present, but based on things that have happened in the past?
A huge part of success is learning to let go of negative emotions. Instead of holding on to and repressing old failures and missed opportunities, what we should be doing is facing them, embracing them, and then RELEASING them!
Facing Them — We all have things in our past that we’d rather forget. But taking negative experiences and bottling them up inside will only allow them to eat you up from the inside out. It takes courage, but one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to face our old failures, admit that they happened and ask, “So what am I going to do about it now?”
Embracing Them — Like it or not, virtually every negative situation in our lives can be a learning experience if we allow it to be. By embracing our past mistakes and failures, and thanking them for the opportunity they gave us to grow and mature as a person, you negate the negative power they hold over your life.
Releasing Them — This is the biggest one! Facing and embracing your negative experiences will do you no good if you continue to hold onto them and allow them to drag you through the mud each time a new opportunity arises. Once you have faced your failures, and thanked them for the learning opportunity it is time to let them go! Erase them from your mind and experience the emotional release that comes from doing so!
It’s been said that there are three basic responses to fear and danger. Fight, flight and freeze. Horses, by nature, are flight animals.
The problem with Kenney was that the danger he was fleeing from was in his own mind… and the harder he would try to get away, the worse it would become.
As humans, we have likely experienced all three responses at one point or another. The problem is, when it comes to our failures and negative experiences from the past, none are very effective. At least not for long.
You can try to beat your past, you can run from it or you can stay frozen right where you are…. but if you ever TRULY want to move forward, you must learn to RELEASE THEM and step into the true potential that lives inside you!
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