Friday, November 9, 2018

Day 263 - Learning with Horses at the Desteni Farm and OMG I AM SO PROGRAMMED!

I had an equine therapy session with Sylvia van Overschot yesterday, where I was instructed to do a number of tasks with a horse of my choosing. After each task we would discuss the ups and downs, triumphs and difficulties, and then I was asked to relate how I handled the situations with the horse to my daily life outside the training ring. Joealso joined us to see how these sessions work, and it was interesting for me to go first, and then to observe someone else to see how they handle a similar situation. 


Going through the experience first-hand, then watching Joe do it, combined with the group chat about ‘control’ led by Gian, all together opened up some deeper layers of myself and how I function that was very cool for me to see.

You may have had this experience yourself, where your mind shifts to ‘school-mode’, meaning, you are now in a situation where you are being instructed, and people are watching, almost like you are performing. I call this school-mode because for me, when I am in such situations it triggers memories of being in school, where I was reprimanded or disciplined in front of others, and without the emotional tools to deal with it in a constructive way, it left me feeling bad, wrong and ‘not good enough’, instead of opening my eyes to the learning experience taking place.

Over the years, and like many students, I developed coping mechanisms to deal with these situations, where, instead of learning the skill and exploring myself within the mistakes, I learned how to be as ‘perfect’ as possible, avoiding mistakes at all costs, and moulding and manipulating myself like clay to fit the exact shape that I thought was expected of me. My internal experience during this process is usually nervousness, petrification to make a mistake, and fear of embarrassment. It’s almost like MKUltra programming, where a certain environment or set-up will trigger this ‘coping’ and ‘surviving’ character automatically without me having made the conscious decision to bring these aspects of myself out. This is a life-mission for me, to identify my own programming and correct it, so that I no longer feel like an expressive, inquisitive, adventurous person who, in moments (many many moments throughout each day) becomes trapped within my own body, where so many of my awesome qualities get pushed down and hidden, and this automatron version of myself emerges to take over to handle and cope with emotionally intense situations. 

Now, this may be surprising to hear about how much I was actually reacting inside myself, because I was with people that I was comfortable with, people that have a proven track record of supporting me quite unconditionally. I was in a familiar space and working with horses that I have spent time with every day for the past year. I realize that it is different for everyone, but because of the intensity of the memories from my past, this particular programming was very well ingrained into me, where the ‘coping’ character comes up and out more easily and naturally than the inquisitive, expressive, adventurous parts of myself that I had locked down due to fear of making a mistake. And when I do push to bring up different expressions of myself, I feel exceptionally vulnerable, exposed and terrified, as if I was being marched naked down the public streets and being shamed by the crowds – which is exactly how I felt as a young child being reprimanded in front of the classroom – having past experiences coming into the present moments and haunting me to this day.

Luckily I have the tools to release myself from this past, and to develop those qualities that I DO have in me, but have just been neglected and under-developed. 

But first, see how these memories played out in my present moment: I walked through the tasks with the horse, where I was to direct the horse in some circles, and then lead him to a specific location. The horse thought it was lunch time, and kept going into his stable expecting to be fed. I chose to use the harness to direct the horse. Within these exercises I realized it was cool to let go of my desire to be able to direct the horse without a harness, and use the harness as support because I simply don’t have that relationship of trust yet developed with the horse. But the thing is, when the horse would want to go a different way, I would feel nervous, helpless and powerless, and would depend on the harness to basically control the horse, gently of course, but it did not feel like a ‘working together’, but rather a force and control. 

However, what I did in that moment was think to myself: mission complete! The horse did what I wanted and I said all the right things, I did it perfectly! Golden star please! 
The realizations I had about controlling and forcing only came after, when I was watching Joe do his session. He chose not to use the harness, and was able to successfully walk his horse in the circles. Then, he was supposed to lead the horse into a circle of ropes on the ground representing his ‘personal space’. Again, not using the harness, Joe tried to direct his horse, but the horse would not leave the stable. “FAIL” was my initial reaction! But then Joe explained his process, where he saw the horse’s stable as the horse’s ‘personal space’, and that he did not want Joe in there, and did not want to leave his stable. Joe said that he could accept that, and walked away. He did not force, he did not control. 

My mind was like “No! That is not the rules of engagement here, you were supposed to get the horse out!” As if Joe had broken the rules lol! But in that moment, I did not follow these thoughts and backchat, but rather asked myself: What can I learn here? I realized that I actually admired the fact that Joe did not follow the rules, in fact, part of the introduction to the session was that WE were the boss, and could determine what the rules were. But because I had shifted into ‘school-mode’, I became an instant rule follower, and did not give myself any room to explore things like, did I really take the time to connect to and consider the horse, or consider who I am with the horse? The truth is, I didn’t. And so any authority, connection, cooperation I had developed with this horse over the past year was basically thrown out the window. In other words, because of my fear of making a mistake, I threw away any real connection and cooperation I had developed with the horse in the past, and instead went into controlling the horse to do what I wanted'.

Immediately, I wanted to go back and do it over, now with my new understanding, but I realized that would still be falling into the same pattern of ‘doing it right’, ‘doing it properly’ instead of just doing it as who I am in that moment. 

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear making mistakes.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to think, believe and perceive that mistakes are bad, wrong and shameful.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to place the fear of making mistakes, which exists only in my mind, above the REAL connection I have created and can continue to create with those around me.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to hold on to the memory of my school years, where I was reprimanded in front of the class for making mistakes, by reacting to these memories and trying to prevent any similar situation from ever happening again, instead of gracefully making mistakes, walking through that fear, and realizing that on the other side of that fear is learning, expansion and growth.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to react within ‘shame’, ‘not good enough’ and ‘petrification’ when I was reprimanded in front of the class for making mistakes, because I took it personally, as if it was about me as a person, a living being, within the belief that I as a living being requires the validation and approval of the teacher, and the school and the report card to prove my value and worth as a living being.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to think, believe or perceive that my value and worth can be determined by anything outside of me.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to think or believe that making a mistake and being reprimanded for it means it’s really very bad, so bad that it means I am not living properly or correctly, and thus I should be yelled at, devalued and disapproved of.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to secretly, within myself feel ashamed because I really, truly in fact knew that I could have done better in school, with my schoolwork.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to participate  within and as self-defeat, where a part of my natural expression was pushed back and defeated due to the intensity of the emotional experience I accepted and allowed in terms of being bad, wrong and not-good-enough.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to listen to the words and tone of the teacher, and believe with everything that I am/was, that it was about me, without seeing, realizing and understanding the stresses of a teacher, the individual life of the teacher, the emotional state of the teacher, and the fact that the frustration and anger she was expressing had less to do with me, and more to do with her, her life, her process, her current reality, and for that, I forgive her.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to think, believe and perceive that all the students in the class agreed with my perception that I was bad, wrong, not-good-enough, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that it was my own self-belief that I was projecting on to them.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to project onto the students the ways in which I was feeling about myself, the self-judgment and self-depreciating thoughts, thinking and believing it was coming from or being confirmed by THEM instead of realizing and understanding that they most likely, from a starting point of fearing being in my position, were more reacting within and as survival in a class of competitors/competition, where it would feel good to see someone else reprimanded in front of the class, a relief that it is not you, and knowing that your work will probably be better than the one that got the mistakes, and so you will not be bad, less-than, not-good-enough, which indicates a participation in the exact same programming I was accessing, and within this, I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to feel the same when it was ever somebody else getting reprimanded, instead of speaking up for them, emphasizing them, or finding some way within my means to support them, I would instead sit back with a sigh of relief and say “yes, YOU are bad, YOU are not good-enough, YOU are less-than”, because so long as there is somebody in that position, it will not have to be me.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to think, believe or perceive that an event, situation or person outside myself can ever touch that part of me that is eternal and unwavering, my self-expression.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to think/believe/perceive that my self-expression needs to be validated and approved by some outside source in order for me to live it.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to be and become self-conscious when I am in a position to explore my self-expression in front of others, wherein I become preoccupied with what they may be thinking, judging, believing and perceiving, because I think and believe that I need their mind’s approval or else I will be making a mistake and will be humiliated, shamed, bad and not good enough.

When and as I see I am fearing making a ‘mistake’ in situations of exploring myself,  my self-expression and/or in a learning process, I stop and I breathe. I bring my focus from self-consciousness to self-connection by stopping my participation in wondering about the thoughts of others, and instead focus on connecting to self and those I am working with.

I commit myself to focus on self-connection and connection to others.

I commit myself to stop valuing what other’s may think of me over the creation of self-connection/connection with others.

I commit myself to NOT prevent myself from making mistakes, but to make mistakes and learn from them.

I commit myself to walk through my fears when I make mistakes, and to realize that on the other side of that fear is learning and growth.