The role of IDENTITY in riding
What if ONE thing could change EVERYTHING? 😮🤔
"Sometimes reputations outlive their applications. Sometimes fires don't go out, when you're done playing with them" - Coyote Shivers, Sugarhigh.
I absolutely love this truth-bomb lyric in the climatic song of one of my favourite movies of all times, Empire Records. So much so, that I often find myself thinking about it - especially when something that I have become known for, or worse still, something I know myself for becomes ill-fitting and limiting.
The power of identity was brought back to the forefront of my mind again while reading Mark Manson's 'The subtle art of not giving a f#@k'. In his book Manson explores how critical the role of identity plays on our performance and life and how our identity reflects exactly our achievement of goals. It's so critical that he even names 'The Manson Law' after identity's role on our behaviors, actions and results.
He says 🎤 'The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it'. 🎤
This was a major ah-ha moment for me.... It makes so much sense! And builds on my belief that we simply can-not outperform our own self image, that we have to overhaul our internal representation of ourselves FIRST not after - because it is THIS that informs our thoughts, actions and behaviors and therefore is the single most critical determiner of our results and goal achievements (or lack-there-of!).
Often we think we are stuck in a situation because of so many other reasons than what is actually going on - that our own identity and thoughts about ourselves, our riding, our own potential that is getting in the way.
Manson goes on to say that the more something threatens to change how you view yourself or how successful or unsuccessful you believe yourself to be and how well you see yourself living up to your values, the more you will avoid EVER get around to doing it. - Oh my, how true is this!
Manson's law applies to both good and bad things in life. Making a million dollars could threaten your identity as much as losing all your money; becoming a famous rock star could threaten your identify just as much as losing your job. This is why people are afraid of success- for the exact same reason they're afraid of failure: it threatens who they believe themselves to be.
Because however much you might want to change something (like your riding confidence), there is a certain comfort that comes with knowing how you fit in the world. Being a nervous rider, or 'nervous nelly' can become a very comfortable badge of honour, even a tool for meeting friends and gaining support and sympathy from other riders, coaches and instructors. It can become a way of life and completely take over our riding vision and the life we build around this.
This identity can mean that we avoid taking action to overthrow our riding fears, because possibly we have become reliant on our fellow nervous friends (or even our coaches!), we like the safety box of our riding fears and become afraid of creating resentment in these support networks or afraid of challenging our identity as a nervous amateur (perhaps we are really afraid of being a successful, capable and confident rider and all that pressure that would go with it?).
Our vision of ourselves informs everything that we do, whether we know it or not. And these beliefs take precedence over everything we do; from the actions we take to the things we say about ourselves and even the people we choose to hang-out with to support ourselves in holding our existing vision of ourselves.
Until we change how WE view ourselves, nothing external can change. Until we can change how we view ourselves, our riding and our own capabilities stay the same. Our ability to overcome our avoidance and anxiety becomes near impossible and we simply cannot create our new identity without first tossing out our old one.
But the incredible flip side of this revelation is that changing EVERYTHING is as simple as changing ONE THING!
Creating a new vision and a new rulebook for ourselves can be as simple as this. And it can be as life-changing, permanent and incredible as that.
So the next question for all of us is - what identity am I holding for myself that is keeping me right where I am? What rulebook have I invented for myself that I am currently living by? And is this vision the one that I really want to be holding for myself?
I'm spending some time renovating my own identity, and I look forward to sharing these learnings, and the new unfoldings that result.
Happy riding and reinventing! Stef
Hello, I'm Stef Winwood, and I love to help riders regain their riding confidence and ditch fear and nerves in the saddle - for good! As a rider, breeder, coach and ex 'nervous nelly' myself, I know how debilitating and frustrating fear and nerves can be, especially when they are robbing us of enjoying our pride and joy - our magnificent horses! Ditching fear and nerves takes so much more than just hours in the saddle, it takes powerful mindset and strategy work off the horse to rebuild how you think and feel on your horse. Find out more here