Month: September 2020

Month: September 2020

Category : Uncategorized

Ok let’s get the bad idea out of the way first! We’ve all done it and I’m sure you know how it goes…..

You look around and see all of those “successful” people and start comparing yourself to them ending up feeling bad about yourself and as though you could never achieve what they have done. Result… feel jealous, negative and fed up and then perhaps even give up trying.

This way of unhelpful thinking might go all the way back to primary school where you perhaps saw the sportiest or most popular person in your class and started comparing yourself negatively to them.

You may have taken this way of thinking on board during your upbringing if you were being told things like “Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister/cousin or other “perfect”child” and this can lead to a lifetime of feeling as though you are not enough simply being your own unique self.

This tendency towards negative comparison might continue into adulthood and into your riding life, your work life and within your peer group. Perhaps you see other riders enjoying various degrees of success and, instead of being able to celebrate that success you find yourself thinking “It’s not fair”, “Why can’t I be like her/him?”, “I’ll never be able to do that”, “They’re so much better than me, I’m rubbish!”.

This type of unhelpful comparison can lead to feelings of dejection, demotivation and generally feeling upset and negative towards yourself.

There are a few ways around this way of unhelpful thinking and one which I like best comes from the psychologist Albert Ellis who came up with the idea of working towards Unconditional Self Acceptance (USA) which means that you work towards accepting yourself as a unique human being with strengths and challenges and within that self acceptance you strive for self development and progress on your own terms rather than on someone else’s.

Megan Sy says (and you can read more via the link above)

“Unconditional self-acceptance (USA) is one of the goals we try to pursue in REBT. There is often a misconception, however, that USA equates to taking the “easy way out” and that unconditionally accepting oneself represents stagnation and resigning oneself to the things we dislike about ourselves. Sometimes, this myth may lead us to hold on to our irrational beliefs and consequently, our unhealthy emotions. To the contrary, I would argue that USA is the first step to pursuing self-betterment in a healthy manner. Acknowledging and accepting ourselves unconditionally, rather than rating ourselves globally based on discrete behaviors or attributes, allows us to strive for our goals without self-hated, shame, or anxiety. The aim of USA is to stop berating and condoning ourselves when we face challenges and failures, even though we may greatly dislike these negative experiences. By removing the conditions upon which we judge ourselves, choosing USA allows us to change and grow while still acknowledging that we are fallible but worthwhile human beings.

Learning to truly accept yourself can be life changing and it can also be a challenging process so if this is something that you feel you need help with then please do get in touch.

A different way around making these unhelpful comparisons is to switch it round and finding yourself a couple of positive role models. A role model is someone you admire and whose behaviour you then try to emulate.

I believe that having a role model can be a helpful and a positive benefit which can help you to imagine your goals and work towards fulfilling them.

Think of some well known equestrians whose careers you may have followed for years. What is it you admire about them? Is it their dedication, hard work and mental strength? Is it their horsemanship? Is it their ability to learn from mistakes? Do some research on them and find out more about what goes on behind the scenes which leads them to have the public success.

How can you then apply what you have learned to your own riding?

At a more local level, are there riders on your yard, in your riding club or whose name you see regularly at local shows? What is it that you admire about them? What can you learn from them?

If you meet them how about asking them about the processes they have in place which allow them to fulfil their goals. Then, instead of comparing yourself unfavourably to that rider you can work out how you can make some changes in your own processes which will help you to achieve your own goals.

Having a role model doesn’t mean you try to copy them directly (because they, and you, are unique with their own strengths and challenges) but it does mean that you can examine yourself, learn and therefore grown in confidence and in self acceptance which is always a positive thing.

Role models….good idea…..unhelpful comparisons….bad idea!

Month: September 2020

Category : Uncategorized

You might be surprised to read a title like this, after all I like to encourage people to see things in a positive light and focus on the good things rather than the bad. So why don’t I want you to say “It could have been worse”?

Imagine the scene, you’re on the ground after falling off your horse. A quick check of yourself and you realise that you’re OK. You might be a bit sore and you might have got a bit of a fright. Your pride might be damaged and you might be disappointed but all in all you and your horse are fine.

What do you do next? Dust yourself down and get back on or perhaps take it easy for a few days until the bruises heal? It’s up to you and depends on the situation you find yourself in at the time.

Then what frequently happens is that you start to talk to your friends about what happened to you and then it starts ……..

“OMG guess what happened to me today. I had such a lucky escape! It could have been SO MUCH WORSE” “If, I had been just a little bit closer to X then Y would have happened”. “If I’d been a couple of minutes sooner/later then XXXX would have happened”

What’s the result of this “It could have been worse attitude”?

What tends to happen is that your over active imagination starts to frighten you with all of those possibilities which you’re now thinking about. So the minor fall or incident grows arms and legs and there is a tendency to turn it into a potential disaster movie! It turns into a mental catastrophe!!

Instead, my advice is that, after an incident or fall, you talk it through with a friend or a coach to analyse what happened and why. Was there anything you could have done differently to prevent the accident? What can you learn from it to hopefully avoid it happening again? Then don’t talk about it any more, it’s finished and over and has no power over your future as long as you do learn from mistakes.

By dropping the “OMG it could have been so much worse” you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to move on from the incident and leave it in the past where it belongs.

If you’ve had an accident that you’re struggling to get over then don’t suffer in silence. Feel free to contact me for some help and advice so that you can move on from past occurrences.

Month: September 2020

Do you ever find yourself getting pretty nervous about trying new things?

Does your mind take you to some scary and uninviting places when you’re anticipating this new event?

Try these before, during and after mindset hacks and they really will make a difference to how you feel about the up and coming event and how much you enjoy yourself.

These ideas can be applied to horse riding, other sports, work or any other area of life.

So, last weekend, a couple of my oldest pals and I went on a two day kayaking course up on the west coast of Scotland. It was a beginner’s introduction course and there were going to be six in the group, the three of us and three others who we didn’t know.

Practicing in shallow water

I was certainly looking forward to the weekend but I must admit I was feeling a little bit nervous too. Those old familiar thoughts were creeping into my mind such as “Will they all be better at it than me?” ,”Will I fall in”, “Will I look stupid” etc etc. I’m sure many of you reading this will have experienced similar thoughts. It was these thoughts which were causing that sense of nervous anticipation!

SO! I quickly reminded myself to practice what I preach and to apply all the things I talk about with my clients and that’s just what I did and the result was that I had an amazing weekend!


  • As soon as you recognise those unhelpful thoughts creeping into your mind you can say “STOP” to yourself to break that chain of thought and then challenge those unhelpful thoughts and replace them with something more encouraging and supportive.
  • Remind yourself that any feelings of nerves are simply feelings and NOT a predictor of something bad happening.
  • Practice visualising what you DO want to happen. So for my kayak course I visualised myself gliding through the water with a big smile on my face and enjoying the company of my friends and the amazing environment I was in.


  • Remind yourself that you are there to learn. Ask questions and enjoy trying out new skills. Have a laugh when you make a silly rookie error, we’ve all done it and it’s part of being a beginner in any new activity.
  • If you feel any physical tension use your breathing to help you to let go of that tension. So you can breathe in comfort and breathe out tension. Remembering to breathe helps to keep your stress hormones within their normal range and therefore lessens any feelings of nervousness. It can help to anchor feelings of comfort to a word. I like to use the word “drift”.
  • Focus on what’s going on “in the moment”. If at any moment in time your kayak (Or your horse!) is doing what you’ve asked it to do then all is OK. This is a useful way to avoid trying to predict what could happen in the future.
  • If you’re in a learning situation make sure to be honest with the instructor about your previous experience or lack of experience. Their job is to be supportive and to teach you new skills so allow them to do their job.
  • Make sure that you’re not comparing yourself unfavourably to those around you. Some people will find some things easier than you but they’ll also find other things more challenging. Everyone is different and there to learn as well.


  • Be proud of yourself for what you have achieved and make sure to focus on all the good things which happened rather than being tempted to magnify any errors.
  • Think about what you have learned so that next time you do this activity you will be ready to take the next steps in the process of learning.
  • Enjoy the sense of achievement, the physical tiredness after working hard and look forward to an evening reminiscing about your day and feeling excited about doing it again.

My kayaking weekend was great fun. I didn’t fall in, kept up with the group, learned about a few different paddle strokes, when and how to use them. I saw some wonderful wildlife and views which will stay with me forever. I was really proud of myself when we had to work pretty hard into a strong headwind to reach the beach where we were planning our lunch stop, I was slow and it was hard work but I did it! It was definitely a weekend to remember.

The sun setting after a wonderful weekend.