Using Fear to Build Confidence
They say that if we want to grow as people, we should do something every day that scares us. I think that’s great, in theory, but what does that actually look like? What if I do this thing that scares me and something bad happens? Now I’ve done it, but I am probably more scared than I was before. Where does that fit into personal growth? How do I actually use my limiting fears to make me a better person?
We can use our fears to help us grow. In order to do this, we must identify them and understand them. We act on many fears on a sub-conscious level, so we have to start to recognize how the problems that we are having could be caused by fears that have gone unaddressed.
We should face our fears in a controlled environment so that we have as much control as possible over success vs. failure and therefore confidence vs. fear. When our confidence is low, we should put ourselves in situations with minimal risk so that we have great chance of success. When our confidence is higher, we can put more pressure on our confidence by putting ourselves in higher risk situations.
Problem: My horse gets stiff in circles/turns.
Cause: I use too much rein in circles/turns.
Fear: I am afraid that if I let go, my horse will cut in/spook/swap behind/lose balance/speed up/fall down, etc.
My fear is caused by my horse not staying in front of my inside leg and on my outside rein.
My horse is not staying in front of my inside leg and on my outside rein because I’m limited by my reluctance to use my aids correctly.
If I spend my life trying to fix my horse without looking at myself, I’m going to become a very frustrated person with a very frustrated horse. If I learn to recognize that I have an action caused by a limiting fear, then I can more fully address the problem.
I need to work on the flat to discipline my horse to stay on the aids so that I can trust that when I follow with my hands through the turn, he will respond appropriately. I also need to discipline myself to follow with my hands and fix his antics with my leg first.
I should start in the walk and the trot, discovering the feeling of my horse reaching under himself with his hind leg, lifting his withers, and reaching out to the bridle when I guide him through a circle or turn. I should learn to love the feeling of him staying pleasantly forward and respectful of my hand and leg. As I gain confidence in his reaction to my action, I put more pressure on my confidence. I canter small circles and smaller circles. I gallop circles. I turn tighter before or after a fence than I really want to. This pressure with appropriate confidence is where I find growth. Without pressure, I do not grow. With too much pressure for my confidence to handle, I learn untrue things about myself through failure caused by unpreparedness.
Challenge yourself. Do something that scares you every day, but set yourself up to build confidence. Find something that limits you, dissect it, understand it, and overcome it. Be a more confident person who has learned to be eager to overcome challenges.