EquiTeam’s coach Liz Daniels shares her recent experiences in why your chat matters.
I was reminded about the importance of a positive mindset whilst coaching at EquiTeam Confidence Camps last week, and although we have touched on this subject before, a conversation that I had with some lovely campers was such a game changer that I wanted to share it with you.
We were midway through our grid work lesson when it really struck me that every time the riders (except one) had taken their turn and returned to the group the first comment they made, was not how well they did, or how pleased they were, instead they focussed on anything that had (in their opinion) gone wrong.
I listened for a few minutes as I coached and watched as one person in particular had got the negative dust cloud around her head. I think at that moment Bradley Cooper could have walked in the arena and she would have been disappointed – although I’m quite sure the rest of us would have made up for her disappointment!
So I posed the question to the group – why is it every time someone comes back the first thing you say is negative?
It’s not; “wow, I really nailed that corner, my rhythm was really good there, ooooh I just jumped something that is a big deal for me… my horse really tried there”.
It’s something that makes you feel bad about yourself and how you are progressing.
I do believe in balance and think that it is important to recognise where improvements can be made – but the correct use of language is such an important part of that picture.
Instead of: I can believe I knocked that pole, I got in too deep to that, I’m the world’s worst rider and I’m ruining my horse.
Why not try: That first line felt really good, my rhythm was great and I could feel my horse really trying, so next time I’m going to really focus on my outside aids around the other turn to see if I can make that approach to the second line the same as the first.
Now that feels achievable!
Glass half full or half empty?
A broader perspective can always useful – if you do happen to knock a pole or two, what about all of the others that you and your horse have left up for the rest of the lesson? Please remember that your horse is allowed to make mistakes too and that also doesn’t equate to you needing to give up!
The truth is – if you keep telling yourself that things are wrong, you start to believe that things are wrong and subconsciously you start to ride like things are wrong. Then things either don’t improve – or guess what – yep – they start to go wrong.
You achieve so much more with the glass half full. And that is not just when you’re riding!
And the flip side is when you hear people thrilled to bits with their achievements it is such a buzz and really energises the lesson and lifts everyone.
My challenge for the group was for every negative thing they wanted to say, they had to balance it up with three positive comments.
And you know what – it was an absolute game changer. They turned their lesson around into an amazing, positive and fun experience with so many achievements and personal firsts.
So, I’d like to extend the challenge to you at home. The next time you ride tell yourself three good things that happened – don’t focus on the negative – instead have a good think about all the positive bits and see how much better you feel for doing that.
Give it a try and let us know how you get on.