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What's Holding You Back

I recently held my third confidence workshop. I offer one in the winter without horses and one in the summer with horses. It's always interesting to look back on last year's outline and see where I was. I always use the same outline, but I add to it each year.

One thing really stood out to me this year. How stress affects our body. This isn't a new concept. We all have heard that stress isn't good for us. I have talked about this each year, but this year it stood our for me.

Cortisol is a stress hormone. It increases blood sugar, blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, and decreases serotonin. During an event, we need this to happen so we can respond quickly. We often don't feel pain until after the event is over and we are safe. Cortisol is not a bad hormone. We need it to get through the event.

The problem is that a lot of us live in a stressed induced state all the time. When we start to worry about something, our nervous system responds to it as though the event is actually happening.

This past fall, we went to Disney. They had a simulator that mimicked going to space. There were signs posted everywhere warning claustrophobic people to proceed with caution. I am definitely one of those people, but I still stood in line. The simulator was a box that held four people. It was about four feet long. They strapped you in and than your seat went to dashboard. Right before the girl was about to close the door, I asked how long this was. Four minutes. Ok I can handle four minutes. Once the door was closed I instantly felt like I was in a coffin. I took my phone out and realized I had no service in the coffin. No way to call my husband or 911. I was completely stuck. I breathed and said the Our Father multiple times. I checked my phone so I could countdown four minutes. I made it out barely alive and could not understand how people were laughing and talking about the fun they just had.

This was five months ago and every time I think about this I have a panic attack. Thinking about it is almost worse than the four minutes of hell that I lived through. Our thoughts have a profound effect on our body! Our imagination can make the actuality of an event seem much bigger than what it was. Do you know a good story teller? Think about how they replay that story as they tell it.

What about you? Do you have a time that your horse made you nervous? Do you replay that event in your mind adding to it?

When we replay an event that makes us nervous, our body always responds to it. It responds to it as though the event it actually happening. You are practicing being nervous when you replay these thoughts.

What can we do to change it?

As soon as that thought comes into our mind, stop and breath. Focus only on your breath going in and out. Focus on something in the environment using your senses. When you think about that thought again, give it a different ending. Practice this for every negative thought you have.

It may look like this: Event - horse spooked in the corner and you almost fell off. Can you feel what that would feel like.

Every time you start to think about that, stop and breath. Next listen to something in the environment. Then go back to your breathing. Smell something in the environment. Back to focusing on your breath. Replay the corner without your horse spooking in it. Him calmly walking through the corner and your body remains relaxed. If your mind starts to shift towards the spook, go back to the above.

Before going to the barn envision the positive session you will have. Notice the changes in your body. I guarantee you the horse will notice.

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