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January 18, 2022 11 Comments
In a recent conversation with a fellow horse enthusiast, I noticed the exchange becoming very one sided. I found myself backing away from my own points of view, not because I didn't believe what I said was valuable, but because I felt the other party was defensive and insecure. To ensure the other person felt heard, felt understood, I backed off and opened my heart and ears. I noticed she wasn't really interested in what I had to say and only interested in making sure I understood what she had to say. At first, each comment I made was met with a defensive comment in return, such as, "Yeah, but I don't do it like that."
So, I took a deep breath in until finally she felt that I wasn't being defensive myself.
Did she overcome her insecurity about being an important, knowledgeable horse person? I hope so. It would be nice to chat with her again when she's less defensive and more open. More willing to discuss rather than contradict every technicality. Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to get my point across, just to have a conversation. Her points were valid too. I simply wondered why she felt so defensive.
I remember feeling on edge like that early in my career. Determined to make others see my point of view. Determined to be right and important and noticed. It felt, at that stage in my career, like I was secure and confident because I knew just enough to talk loudly and determined, to fight for my view. Ironically the opposite is true. I didn't understand the scope of knowledge needed for mastery and assumed each new thing I learned was making me smarter and more elite. The depth of knowledge is so vast that it takes years to accumulate experience and knowledge about techniques and variables within techniques. However, in the beginning, it's all too easy to try and lock things down. You learn something, then you lock it down as pure knowledge.
Insecurity sometimes makes us think of being a shy person, unwilling to step into social circles, but usually, insecurity leads to loud talking, closed minded, single track behavior. A secure person could have an idea and be willing to improve upon the idea rather than set it in stone and defend it. A secure person can hear others and relate to them in some way rather than tell them who is wrong and who is right. An insecure person defends every point like it's some kind of perfect knowledge that can't be insulted.
So, as I listened, there came a moment when I realized I don't need her to believe in me, or to see what I think is important. The real truth is, I just need my horse to believe in me. Isn't that what it's really about anyway? It's about the people and animals we love and want to be with. We are all here, seeking ways of making the experience for the ones we love better. I think there are times to defend your positions and ideas, and I think there are times to be open and allow new ideas or improve the ideas we currently hold. But down at the deepest level, I think the important thing is to let go of insecurities about how others view us and remember, if our horse thinks we've got what it takes to be a friend, leader, and noble caretaker, then we're in good shape and we don't have to speak loudly to defend our positions.
So, if all else fails, remember this. Horse people are people too. They can be passionate, determined, defensive, loud, insensitive, just like all other people. If we can be secure in ourselves, we can hear that noise and not get defensive. We can believe it's okay for them to be learning and stuck in a stage of development without judging negatively. We can love in spite of irritations. We can breathe and believe our positions aren't threatened. They are merely moving and growing like a living thing. Remember to be compassionate toward others, and yourself. Remember to be empathetic toward your horse and other animals. Remember you're not alone and you've got great people around to support you and teach you. Even if they teach you what you don't want to do. Remember others don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. And if you think you don't have time for people with different opinions, think again. You have time and energy to support others on their journey, even if it means just making them feel loved for a minute and never getting to the technical stuff.
Ultimately, I'm super grateful for the experience of chatting with other horse loving people, even if they don't see things my way. We are all in this together, aren't we?
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