Monday, June 17, 2013

Reprogram your brain to fix your riding issues

Neuro-linguistic Programming For Dummies Cheat Sheet - For Dummies

If you haven't heard of NLP, you really aren't on top of the whole brain-education game.  The cheat sheet linked above will be very helpful in getting you started.  The big work, however, is all on you.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming is not a new concept, but it's one worthy of revisiting as we wend our way through the curly brain hairs that are keeping you from being the best horseman you can be, and in turn keeping your horse from being as happy as he can be.  The basic theory is that if you can identify the ideas you have that are standing in your way--that includes all sorts of belief systems about your own place in the world and the way your horse thinks--and you can identify new ways of thinking that will remove the blockages you're causing, you can change the way your brain handles experiences.

How is this different from any of the other processes I've discussed lately?  Honestly, it's not.  Whether you are meditating your way to success or linking brains with your horse or reprogramming your brain linguistically (using language), you are changing the story you tell yourself and the world about who you are.

Don't you just feel like this some days?  Me too!

Starting at the top of the cheat sheet, you'll need to alter your overall mental state to clear away some of the emotional overlay that's preventing you from thinking clearly.  There are a lot of ways to accomplish this, and the chart lists a few.  The bottom line is that any change to your environment--the parts of it that you control and even the ones you don't, like the atmosphere at your place of employment--will change your mood.  If you plan it right, the change will be for the better.  Rendering yourself more miserable would surely be a change, but you might as well aim to come through this more satisfied rather than less.  If you hate heavy metal music, for example, filling your space with it would not be a positive change and might lead to heightened anxiety in you and fear in your co-workers.  Something as small as changing the way the blinds in your bedroom are turned can set the tone for your whole day.  If you can find something that will lighten your mood, you're off to a rousing start.

Changing personal beliefs is a little harder and requires serious soul-searching.  If you've been a long-standing proponent of a particular style of horsemanship, and employing it is causing you more stress and frustration than it's alleviating, and your horse has stopped responding and is standing glaring at you from the other side of the round pen, you might find that that belief is something that needs to be revisited.  If you're stubbornly clinging to that belief and silently harrumphing at my suggestion that it needs to be changed, think of another belief (Santa comes to mind) that you once held firmly and have since abandoned.  Not everything you believe at any given moment is carved in mental stone.  Beliefs are just that.  They're not necessarily even based in reality.  Do a reality check, and see if you can pinpoint one idea that's not working for you. Then see if there isn't a similarity between that past, long-abandoned belief and the one standing in your way now.  My deadliest belief and the one that most resembled parts of my abandoned thoughts about "respect" was the meme that one must never "let the horse win" or one risks letting the horse take over one's life.  Boy! Was that some wrong-headed interpretation of winning vs losing!  As soon as I replaced the Bad Thought with the new one, that horses don't lie and they only behave like horses (much to our human chagrin), the pieces began to fall into place.  It's a work in progress, but at least it's no longer a work in regression.

Staying on track with your proposed change is tough.  We tend toward mental meandering, and it's very easy to wind up back on the old path without noticing that we've veered.  Making a chart is helpful.  Anything you concretize has a better chance of sticking with you than the more loosely constructed of your plans.  Remember the time you were going to change how you related to your least-favorite relative?  Remember how that worked out?  I rest my case.  Make notes.

Much better atmosphere!

Checking both the conscious and unconscious (or subconscious) levels of your behavior and thought processes really does require a certain amount of introspection.  Meditation helps cut to the chase.  You don't have to become a Yoga Master, but the ability to quiet your conscious thoughts so you can hear the more creative side of your brain will make the process easier and faster.  If you continually return to that loud voice yelling "this is just wrong" in your mental ear, you may find yourself stuck in an endless circuit going nowhere.

The rest of the linked chart will give you guidelines for relieving fear and becoming more flexible in your thinking.  We can all use a little more flexibility.  Think of the most stubborn, least flexible person in your environment and remember that image whenever you start to dig in your mental heels and lose the flow you're aiming to create.  Do you want to be that person?  I didn't think so.

All the changes you are about to make should lead to a better relationship with yourself and with your horse (and anyone else in your immediate vicinity), so have no fear that this tinkering will fall into the "naive intervention" category.  The goal is to become less naive, more tuned in to yourself and the world, ferret out the erroneous drek that's interfering, and not to monkey with what's already working fine on its own.

Let the reprogramming begin!

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