I want to talk about PONDS 🐸 - metaphorically speaking.... Horses are my passion, but riding them is not something I have ever had a natural talent for. I struggle a lot working it all out to be honest - co-ordinating my brain and body in a timely manner to make sense to my horse, while trying to give the dressage judge a harmonious picture. However I am determined to improve, and to do this I need to be a smaller fish in a bigger pond. There are plenty of smaller ponds I could swim in, but I won’t grow there- there’s just no room!
Where do you want to be- what’s your passion? The brain loves a vision, it’s the first step to growth and transformation. Once you have the vision of where you want to be, you have to take steps to actually put yourself “out there”- and suffer the discomfort. Owch, and I am feeling the discomfort right now! I am pushing myself to compete at a higher level of dressage than I have been, to ride better, to think differently- to unlearn some bad and unconscious habits.
There’s no short cut available. Transformation and growth whether for a hobby, job or relationship can be confronting and uncomfortable- it feels weird at times. Trust in your vision and passion to get to where you want to be!
Picture credit @amygphotography_ from last Sunday, me with TJ riding in our bigger pond- not winning but growing.
In that moment in life, when the intangible gut instinct starts to whisper that you’re not in the right place or doing things in the right way, the feeling can be alarming. That clarity can grow slowly, or can be very sharp, an awakening so bracing that it takes your breath away. Once the feeling has attached itself to you, it’s hard to shake it off. Often we try and ignore it because it brings into focus just how paralysed we are by our fears. And when all is said and done, it’s fear that stops us being the best version of our selves – we aren’t good enough after all? So we try and disconnect from that dream we have, dismissing the ideas as foolish and unachievable. The dreams bubbles under us every day, reminding us that we’re not in the place we want to be. We feel despondent and insecure. On a day-to-day basis life doesn’t match up to our values and beliefs. We haven’t met our own expectations, and we feel the resentment that comes from that.
You’re face down IN THE ARENA, and your critics are all around: Shame, Scarcity, Comparison, delivered by a version of yourself that has stepped out of your own body and is looking back at you, telling you “you are not enough”. They stand by the Teacher who didn’t believe in you, the Friend who ghosted you, the people on a day to day basis who overlook you, the Partner who takes you for granted, the Parent who wanted you to be more – because they did so much to give you everything they never had. Even the horse that’s just bucked you off is staring down at you, looking surprised at your own incompetence falling out the saddle as if to say “So are you going to get back on then?”
Your body aches, your mind spins – wondering – “how did I get here?” and contemplating “Can I really get back up?” because we all know if we get back up, we may fall again, and could we really take more failure? Do we really want more bruises? It’s so much easier to stay small, to sit down here on the floor and look up at all of you, the critics who know better, the ones who do better, who shout louder.
And then you spot something in the corner of your eye, you hadn’t noticed it until now. Amongst the noise and confusion, you see your advocates and friends. You were so busy trying to prove yourself to your critics, worrying about the thoughts of those who don’t have a care for you, that you didn’t even notice them. Cheering you on, rooting for you, sharing you disappointment, willing you to stand. They walk over to you, while you adamantly sit dusty and bruised on the floor. One by one they approach, and slowly begin to help you up. One holds a hand while the other steadies you, another brushes the dirt of your clothes, one takes the reins of the horse.
“Are you ready to get back on?” they say
“But what if I fall” you reply
“We’ll lead you for a while”
And so, you get back in the saddle, and they walk beside you until you’re ready to ride alone.
You look up into the seats around the arena. The critics are still there, but they’re much further away now. They look at you in distain.
“I know you are there” you say “I know who you are, and I know what you think. You’re welcome to sit and watch, but I am going to get back up any way. Your feedback doesn’t matter to me now”
With that, their faces blur, and those of your supporters shine brighter.
I decided late last year that if I was going to make my future profession from any form of coaching, I really had to – and wanted to - show up with my commitment to Equality and Diversity. Realising that I needed to take a proactive approach to my own unconscious bias, I undertook 4 months part-time study to pass my Level 2 in Equality and Diversity.
The course helped me to poke, prod and unravel some of my own unconscious bias. Those tendencies we have as humans to be suspicious of people who are "not like us". Our brain has a tendency to stereotype, which can result in injustice, conflict and discrimination. Stereotyping is used by the brain for efficiency. If we can cluster people into groups, then we are not so overwhelmed by information. Our brain will use any information it finds to define these clusters, things like the negative portrayal on social media or in the media will compound any negative depiction of minority groups. And hence it is ‘unconscious’, because often we don’t even realise we are doing it.
It would be easy for me to feel comfortable with my efforts, the hours of study I invested looking deeply into this subject. To proudly display my certificate on the wall for my clients to see, like a beacon of my commitment to treating everyone who walks through my door just the same.
But no, this just isn’t enough. The events of this week have shown this. I have added ‘white privilege’ and ‘anti-racism’ to my vocabulary. I have realised I have so much deeper to dig, and that this is a time for me to listen and understand more from those who have suffered. So my commitment to my future clients is not that I have ‘ticked the box’ for Equality and Diversity, but that I am engaged in the long and faithful work of awakening, and am open to things being more complex than they once seemed. This is the work.