Wednesday, February 11, 2015

James Clear knows me!

Identity-Based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your Goals This Year

He knows all of us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves, which is why he's James Clear and we're not.

Today we're going to ferret out those things that make us who we are while they stand in the way of us becoming so much more, especially when it comes to our work with and without horses.

No one really cares if part of your identity is that nightly glass of wine.  That trendy bit of your Self doesn't really impact much on your functionality in the World At Large.  No one cares if you'll only eat yellow lentils, read only Chaucer, or call yourself a potato in quiet moments.  I've written at length (some might say ad nauseum) about how we each write our own story.  Our lives don't happen to us; we make them happen.  This is that, again.

You want me to call you WHAT?
You're kidding, right?

Whatever story you're living, you have filled in the details of how that Person functions in society.  You know instinctively whether the Person you are being can tolerate change or hates it.  You made it up, so it's yours.  You know in your heart whether the Person you built is sensitive to others or hard-core self-absorbed.  You made that up too.

No one cares unless or until your Personhood inflicts some sort of damage, chaos, or irritation on the Person they've created.

It's obvious how this theory works in the real world of your career and family.  If the story you've written makes it impossible for you to learn to get interact effectively with others, that's a big road block to success at any level.  If your Person of Design feels above it all and unable to suffer idiots, your Person is going to be sadly disappointed and in a constant state of distress because, let's face it, idiots abound.  If your Person is not who you really are, you will be depressed and anxious thanks to the cognitive dissonance created by the gap between belief and reality.

The down side of all of this is that it's quite possible to fall in love with your Person and be unwilling to give it up.  Bummer.
Finding an identity is
a worthy pursuit.

The downside is that you can, at any point in time, change the story, and the Person will respond readily, particularly if there are cookies.

Now think about the animals you're working with.  No, not the guy in the next cubicle who eats nothing but cheese for lunch.  If you're here on this page, you're doing something with horses or other non-human species.  Those animals don't do what we do.  They don't create stories about themselves.  They try sometimes to hold onto a story that's been changed.  Oh, my, do they try!  Just watch a newly gelded boy horse rejoining his herd after his month or so of absence for hormone amelioration.  He'll fuss and fume and blow himself up to his full pre-surgical stature, and a couple of the lesser beings in the herd might even show him a little respect.  But the interesting thing about herd dynamics is that they are fluid.  He told his story, the other boys looked him in the eye and saw that the fire was burning low, and they pretty much beat him into the submissive position they know he now deserves.  He was gone, after all.  I watched a dominant gelding return to the herd after seven weeks of layup to be pummeled and driven off to live with the mares.  His ego suffered greatly because his story wasn't panning out as hoped.

But on the whole, horses and other animals just are.  They live in the moment in a more reactive condition.

The difference between the returning deposed king and your cousin, Bert, who has recently taken to wearing open-collared shirts and letting his freak flag fly in the form of a Saturday Night Fever slouch, is that the horse is only sticking to his original script.  He hasn't caught on to the fact that the story changed.  He didn't change it.  Now he's stuck with figuring out which character he's supposed to be.  He'll figure it out because his life depends on it, and because he has no ego involved in the fight.  Bert rewrote his tale all on his own.

So if you approach your horse training endeavors with a story that doesn't really suit the situation, a story that your horse doesn't understand or that doesn't lend itself to the level of goal-oriented other-directedness required by the training setting, you're done.  Walk away.  Take up something less taxing.  Otherwise, be that horse.  Your life depends on it.

Being human, you have the option of self-analysis and a rewrite.  Figure out what part of your identity-based behavior--the stuff you cling to because you believe it makes you who you are--isn't working and change it.  Make yourself the person you need to be to succeed.  Possibly the biggest conflict between humans and other species is our unwillingness to change and our intense desire to force change on other animals.

See yourself as others see you, and edit, edit, edit!

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