Disappointment in Your "Stable Life": Are You Actually Amplifying Your Own Suffering?

disappointment emotional pain equestrian life coaching for equestrians motivation overcoming disappointment perfectionism procrastination quit on a good day self sabotage Jun 22, 2023

In the roller-coaster of equestrian life, it can become reflex to try and protect yourself from disappointment.  It only takes a moment of considering any of these scenarios that clients have shared with me to understand the emotional pain that goes along with them:

1. Your mind is set on a big competition...and after months of preparation, your horse goes lame.
2. The heart horse you've bonded with and cared for over the years develops a neurological condition that can't be cured.
3. Your competition partner shines in the first two phases of the event but regularly lacks luster on the final competition day and your hopes of a placing are consistently dashed.

We all have a different tolerance for discomfort; so we create solutions to fit our current "tolerance setting" or "resilience level".

Because human brains are designed for survival and to reduce pain and effort while maximizing pleasure, we will unconsciously adapt and respond to lower tolerances to be in self protection--and minimizing the risk of disappointment is a task your lower brain welcomes. 

For example:

1. In response to a horse going lame after months of preparation for a competition, you might find yourself unwilling to take the risk of disappointment so you stop entering competitions.  OR, you enter but you delay preparation through procrastinating behaviors or perfectionistic tendencies.
2.  If you've experienced the loss of a loved horse through a tragic diagnosis or accident, you might become hypervigilant with veterinary care or consider getting out of horses entirely.  
3.  Once you notice a pattern during competition, you might find your enjoyment dulled throughout or lack motivation to stick around to completion of the event  so you scratch regularly and stop giving yourself the chance to shine completely with self sabotaging behaviors.

Notice that all of these solutions have something in common:  They help to mitigate the risk of disappointment BUT they also diminish the potential for long term satisfaction.  With each of the solutions described, you eliminate short term disappointment but you ENSURE ongoing disappointment. In trying to avoid disappointment, you AMPLIFY it. 

The problem with trying to minimize risk is that it can also keep you from experiencing satisfaction and pleasure in the long term.  There's a fine line between self protection that is necessary and self protection that stunts your life experience.

 It's not that you're meant to feel disappointment all of the time and that ignoring your emotions or creating toxic positivity is the answer--that's not what I am suggesting here.  But you have an opportunity to step back and consider what you want to create in your life for the long term.  And if your subconscious tendency is to avoid disappointment at all costs, you will inadvertently CREATE disappointment--just the OPPOSITE of what you intended to do.

Emotions are meant to be felt.  Even disappointment has value.  When you have the capacity to feel the highs and lows of life experiences, you create balance and a feeling of being grounded, stable and capable.

The capacity to feel negative emotions like disappointment will allow you to take risks and have enough tolerance to experience disappointment without shutting down or unplugging yourself from the living, breathing sport you love.

If this resonates with you, I would love to hear from you.  Reach out and tell me how how disappointment has shown up in your "stable life" and how you're growing your capacity to feel the emotions that used to stop you.  And if you need help doing that, I'm here for all of that too!

Looking for a way to connect with other equestrians who are building confidence, resilience and crushing their goals in life AND at the barn?  Come hang out with us.  

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