The little Mare taught me a lesson

Tonight a lesson I learned two years ago is still powerfully resonating within me.

wild_horses_running_card-p137309000032994250q6k5_400It happened in a work-group of Equine Assisted Therapist. We were practicing our skills, mentoring each other and exposing ourselves to the beautiful influence the horses had on us. Little did I know what was in store for me.
We were practicing “Join up”, an exercise made popular by Monty Roberts. In this exercise, you had get the horse to trust you by only using non-verbal signals. The technique is to assert your authority by dictating which way and when the horse may run, constantly looking for signs of trust. When the signs are there you turn your back to the horse and allow the horse to approach you and then walk out of the lunge ring with the horse following you.

I did the exercise with a little mare, Indian Magic. I went into the ring and started to assert my authority and Indian Magic bolted. She leaped right over the fence and ran for the fields.

Of course I had to go and fetch her. As I approached her, she came to me. I let the halter unfold to catch her and she ran away. This repeated itself a few times. After a while I gave up and started to walk back to the stables and wouldn’t you know? Indian Magic followed me. I stopped and she stopped. I walked, she followed. In the end we came to the stables, walking at an arm’s length of each other.

There are so many powerful lessons in this experience, but the one I want to share is that on that day, I realized that the pictures in my head, of how the world should look like, limits me.

That I had to open my eyes and start seeing what is really happening. That I must not be a slave to my expectations of how things should be, but be liberated by how things actually are.

Yes, sure. Be clear about what you want (I wanted Indian Magic to trust me) and then go with the flow in pursuing this vision. Don’t hold yourself back, pay attention, and let reality enrich you. Go beyond the picture in your head.
When you stop expecting things to be a certain way, you can appreciate them for what they are. Ultimately you will realize that life’s greatest gifts are rarely wrapped the way you expected.

Still unwrapping reality

“Oh, ‘cos I a’nt frightened!”

“Now, that’s probably the most misable sentence that can be uttered.

Misable because that’s what it’s all about. Misable because it is too dammed expensive, misable because the price of not being frightened is trust.

And what a word that is!

Define it how you like, and I’ll bet you’ll miss the main point! It’s more than confidence, more than security; it doesn’t belong to ignorance or, for that matter, to knowledge either.

It is simply the ability to move out of  ‘I-am-the-center-of-all-things’ and to let something or someone take over.

And as for Anna, she had simply moved out and let Mister God move in.”

– Out of “Mister God this is Anna” by Fynn

The authority of decisive mistakes (Part 1)

A few days ago a young man sat before me, asking me which way to go next. As I listened to him, I remembered a friend’s comment when we were his age. “We are young enough to make mistakes and recover”

Someone else asked me how we know if we make the right decisions. I told her I think we always make the right decisions. No one deliberately choose to make mistakes. It is always in hind sight that we realize we should have chosen a different option.

Maybe we should explore our unique decision making process. Every one has one. Some are more developed than others and some are more effective than others. But each one of us has one.

To decide between options is grounded in human capability to choose. To be able to choose is one of the fundamental human abilities. This flows out of the universal law that each one has authority over him/herself.

This authority is sometimes given away. In some instances this is healthy. For example a child that needs to be taken care of. Or in a democratic election to vote for a political party is to give that party your authority to govern the society you live in.

When personal authority is given away, it is always given in trust. The person receiving that authority then has the responsibility to give that authority back with interest. A parent needs to give opportunities to the child to grow into taking up their own authority. A government must create opportunities for the people to live in freedom and peace etc.

When someone or a collective arrogantly think their authority is of a higher or better kind they think they can take other people’s authority (usually by force). This has happened all over history: War’s between nations, colonialism, manipulation in relationships, corruption in government and so on.

Very important though. These people can just be successful if they are given the authority by the other. Authority, like trust, is never something you can take or deserve, it is always a gift.

So, what we need to be aware of constantly in our decision making process, is how do I distribute my authority?

With care


Trusting Emotional Memory

People often do no remember what you say to them, but they seldom forget how you make them feel.

Emotions are contagious. Just look how a crowd can be swept up during one of the 2010 soccer world cup games. Or think about how an angry client ignites your own anger. Or when your child is sad, you also feel down.

The reason for this is because we have a built-in survival mechanism that pick up the emotional vibrations of those around us. Animals like horses and dogs also have this ability. Unfortunately in humans this ability has weakened. Some individuals have kept more of this ability than others. It is part of the gift they have (like someone has a gift to play the piano), but every one of us can develop the ability.

The ability to sense the emotion of someone else poses a challenge. Most of us are not skilled enough in distinguishing between our own emotion and that of someone else. We therefore interpret the emotion we feel as our own. Which is not always fair. Not to us or the other person. The implication of this is that we need to come to know ourselves in order to developing this skill.

This ability to sense others emotions is also the foundation of our ability to have empathy with someone else. But to be truly  add value we need to be true to ourselves. Take responsibility for our own emotions and be empathetic towards others emotions.

What happens when we do this? When we own our own emotions, we become authentic. Authentic people accept themselves totally, with the good and the bad. Authentic people are at ease with their strengths and their areas of growth. They do not judge – not even themselves. They know that there is room for diversity and in diversity (and the paradoxes that come with it) lies the true beauty of life.

Because authentic people have no judgment, they create a presence of acceptance around themselves.This in turn allows other people to  feel comfortable around them and they tend to trust them.

Trust opens up a whole new conversation. Trust is, in my mind, one of the most fundamental emotions we can have. It is the opposite of fear. To trust is the most natural tendency of people and at the same time the most difficult.

I think, it is because we have not learned how to trust intelligently. Stephan Covey jr. on his book “The Speed of Trust” suggest that trust consists out of good character (like trustworthiness etc.) and competence. For example: If someone has a good work ethic but not the competency to do a project. Do not trust him/her with the project.

So start to trust intelligently. First of all – trust yourself. Make sure you stay true to yourself (character) and keep on developing your ability (competence) to be a good Father or business man or husband etc. When you have trust in yourself, you will find it easy to be authentic. When you are authentic, people will feel comfortable around you and will remember you. Not for what you said or did, but for how you made them feel.

With trust