How To Create Calmness In Any Situation
“Negative emotions are just signals, they’re just triggers, they’re letting you know that you are now focused on something outside your control.”
In order to be able to create more calm within different situations you face, it’s important to realise that there is very little inside of your control and you want to make sure that you’re not pouring energy into things that you can’t control.
When it comes to horses, they are unpredictable and if you pushing your comfort zone and out-competing there are a lot of elements outside of your control. So before you spiral into on overwhelmed state where anxiety kicks in and you are running on adrenaline. Take a moment and realise there’s no sense in trying to control or worry who is in your class because you can’t change that. There’s no sense in trying to control what the judges will give you because you can’t. There’s no sense in trying to control the weather because you can’t. There is no sense worrying what so in so is saying on the sideline, because you can’t control that. So just let those things happen and instead focus on what you can control.
When you pull back everything. Like all of the things we worry about, there are actually only so many things inside of our control. And there’s this infinite number of things outside of our control. The key is to recognise what is in your control first and then learn to let go of the rest. If you don’t you can spend your entire time wrapped up in negative emotions on things you simply can’t change or control.
If you have done any reading on philosophy, what you can control is actually only a couple of things. You can control is your response to the situation which you’re put in and you can control your effort/work.
When you put this into your riding and performance at a competition, what can you control?
You can control your eating, your sleep, your learning of your test, your preparation and training before the day and your timing and warm up on the day around your test. Maybe a couple of other things that are personal to you, but the list is small. When we take time to really narrow it all down, this can help us create more balance and reduce stress and when you actually notice those negative emotions bubble up to the surface ask yourself why and is it because I am focused on things I can’t control?
You see, life can throw us curve balls all the time and we can get wound up within all things we can’t control, however when we take a moment to breathe. Think and respond we can alleviate a whole lot of extra stress and emotion that was about to come our way.
When it comes to your riding, you can control your preparation, the work and effort that you put in. You can’t control the horse, but you can control what you do. When it comes to competitions, you can’t control the weather, but you can control your preparation for that weather and your response to that weather and of course the clothes you wear. Horses are unpredictable and the unexpected happens, you can’t control this, but you can control your response to this.
You can take some of those unpredictable things into your control and prepare for them ie train in all weather conditions and therefore be more prepared for the unexpected. The truth is rarely do things run perfectly smooth, but if your preparation has allowed for this, you are therefor more prepared.
There are of course some things that you don’t know and can’t prepare for. For example, your horse when it spooks at a man riding a bike at competition coming round the corner to fast. You could react instantly to that man and tell him your two cents. Or you could breathe and respond. There is usually too things that will happen in this situation, one is reaction driven through emotions and the other is response driven. It’s always better to give yourself a moment to respond versus react.
In any situation where you may feel yourself get frustrated, angry, afraid, depressed and feel some sort of negative emotion remember negative emotions are just signals, they are a trigger, they’re just letting you know that you are now focusing on things outside your control. So instead of reacting with emotion and getting frustrated and projecting out and losing control on things you can’t control, instead focus on being present and what you can control in that moment.
By staying focused on things that you can control. There’s more opportunity to reduce anxiety and stress. Staying in a mindful present state with no judgments or fear. That’s when mindfulness is also a mindfulness practice. When we put time to work on our own mindset and supply our mind with the correct fuel, we are practising for those moments.
This is why meditations and mindfulness practices are so powerful in helping you train your mind to stay focused on what you can control. Training your brain to stay calm and giving yourself the tools to do so. Meditations are your way to actually practice for when the crap really goes down, whether its horse-related or just life. And then when it goes down, can you stay in that parasympathetic state where your rest and digest and not spiral into sympathetic cortisol driven fight or flight. By remaining in a calm state you’re not nervous, you’re not scared, not anxious. You’re just able to be and respond.
Don’t sell yourself short for what you can control, which is effort and your response. So when it comes to life, business, riding, friendship, saving, competitions the idea behind this is give as much effort as you can to what you can control and let go of the rest.
When you start feeling negative emotions around a situation, that’s the signal that you’re no longer focusing on what you can control and you need to pull back. Realizing that the negative thought patterns are a signal for you to refocus. You’ve got to step back and recenter yourself, get your wits about you.
Go back with your next best effort attempt and remember to train your mind by using meditation for when those storms come.
If you haven’t tried out meditation before, be sure to check out our free competition series ones here.