What is guilt? Is it healthy? Does it serve any useful purpose?

According to some, having been raised an Irish Catholic, I should practically have a PhD in guilt!  Seriously though, seeing the effect that it has on people’s lives, I do ponder this feeling, and its consequences, from time to time.

Recently I’ve been thinking about how strongly it relates to shame.  For most of us, this is something that we learn at a very early age.  This means that it’s acquired during the phase of our lives (0 – approximately 6 years of age) when we accept things without question, and without the ability to judge their validity or helpfulness.  As a result, shame is something that is very longstanding, deep rooted and can have a profound impact on our lives.  It is also – as alluded to in my, slightly flippant, comment above – often embedded into our culture, helping to perpetuate and strengthen its hold on us.

So, is it healthy, and does it serve any useful purpose?

If I can address the second part of that question first, I believe that guilt is only useful in as much as it alerts us to discomfort.  It shows that there is an issue that needs addressing.

When we experience discomfort in this way, it indicates that our thoughts are out of line with our Higher Self’s views on the subject.  For example, if I do something that makes me feel guilty, my inner critic is telling me all those self-shaming thoughts, such as:

  • You’re a bad person!
  • You never get anything right!
  • You’ve failed again!
  • What a stupid mistake that was!

In contrast, our Higher Self never judges us, and certainly would never address us in less than loving terms.

So, our discomfort makes us aware that we’re out of alignment.  We’re not being true to our Higher Self.

If we drill deeper, we’ll probably find it’s not just the shaming thoughts that are off balance, they’re most likely coming from our deeper awareness that we’re not living as our Best Self – we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted by other things.

In today’s world we’re spoilt for choice on ‘distractions’:

  • Social media
  • ‘Will we / won’t we’ Brexit?
  • And, whichever way it goes, what impact will this have on the economy?
  • Has environmental damage gone beyond repair?

Then, of course, there’re also the ‘minutiae’ of our everyday lives:

  • What to have for dinner
  • Who will get together with whom on Love Island?
  • What are people thinking of me / of what I said / of how I look?

All of these things can occupy our thoughts, meaning that we’re not fully present much of the time. 

As a result, we often act, or make decisions, on a largely subconscious level.  We can end up going through our days on autopilot, reacting rather than consciously responding to situations, allowing the nervous, anxious, fearful part of our mind to make our decisions for us.  This can result in things like:

  • Over eating
  • Over spending
  • Not stepping out of our comfort zone – eg trying something new
  • Avoiding situations that we find challenging – eg meeting new people
  • Self sabotage

When we notice that we’ve made decisions that were unwise, and maybe got us into trouble, we then feel guilty.  This isn’t ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ – no feelings are, and it’s impossible to turn them off anyway – it’s what we do with this feeling that’s important. 

Do we get ‘stuck’, listening to, and engaging with those shaming thoughts?  

Or do we explore the feelings and learn from them, seeing what changes we can make to move closer into alignment with Who We Really Are, in order to live a life where we make conscious choices that serve us, and that feel authentic and honest, and where we can be responsible and accountable rather than feeling guilt and shame?

This can be challenging, and will require us to look deeply at conditioning that we’ve carried since childhood.  Others have referred to this as ‘un-domestication’ or ‘rewilding’.  It’s a visceral process and requires deconstruction and reconstruction, but you don’t have to do it alone, and the rewards feel amazing: self awareness, autonomy and freedom.

I think that this is the only value of guilt and therefore I don’t feel that it’s a place where we should spend any more time than absolutely necessary.  In fact, to return to the question of ‘is it healthy?’, generally, beyond the initial recognition and finding the issues to be addressed, I would say that the answer to this is ‘No’.

On the contrary, guilt is often very restricting and deeply uncomfortable.  It keeps us small and can be very stressful which, as we know, impacts on our wellbeing.  That inner voice also isn’t content with just criticising our current choices.  If we are prepared to listen, it has a nasty habit of dragging up every perceived failing and every ‘mistake’ we’ve ever made.  It also projects its beliefs onto others, telling us that they, too, see us as not good / clever / skilled enough.

So, what can we do? 

Start by taking a step back and observe the things that your mind is telling you, without engaging with them, knowing that they are merely the product of your conditioning and your natural negative bias.  Don’t try to fight your mind, it’s just doing its job, and it’s not really open to persuasion anyway!  Observe, without judging, and accept that this is what the mind does – not just yours, but everyone’s.

You can then make a conscious decision about whether to go along with what your mind says, or choose a different option.  You don’t have to push yourself too far out of your comfort zone.  Small steps and small challenges will help you to build your ‘consciousness muscles’ allowing you to stretch and grow.

As you become more self-aware you will be able to identify the things you really want in your life, the things that light you up and fill you with excitement and joy.  These are your guide in creating the fulfilling life that you long for.  These are where you discover your ‘purpose’.  You aren’t here for the ‘should’s, ‘have to’s or ‘ought to’s.  You’re here to Be Who You Really Are and to let that light shine out.  You’re here to experience and grow and en-joy the journey.

Advertisements

So, you’re a horse whisperer then?

Clarifying some misconceptions about the work that I do

Often, when people hear what I do, I get asked this question, but for me it’s not so much about whispering, it’s about listening.

Another misconception is that I offer Equine Facilitated Therapy.  This isn’t strictly true either, at least not in the traditional sense.

So, I thought that it might be a good idea to explain a little more about my work, or at least a part of it.  In this post, I’m going to look at one of my favourite aspects – where the horses and people come together.

My aim is that this should be a mutually beneficial experience, that is, that both the horses and the people should be supported by their time together. 

I often see animals used in therapy or assistance roles and I wonder what, if anything, they get from this.  Sometimes they have a particular role to play, a ‘job’ if you will, for example a guide dog, and they provide a much-valued service, but when do they get something back?  Guide dogs, I know, are well looked after and they’re given regular health checks, but their role can be stressful at times. 

Things are shifting and there are many programmes out there now that are seeking to come from a more heart-centred and animal-led perspective.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all assistance and therapy animals were given more support in their roles?  This could be offered in the form of massages, Reiki and self-selection sessions, for example, just like we might take a ‘spa-day’ if we’ve had a tough few weeks at work.

I used to volunteer with a group who gave horse riding lessons for people with disabilities.  This offered many benefits to the riders, but the horses were often stressed, which came out in ‘unwanted’ behaviours.  Some of these horses had to be retired as they were no longer suitable for the role.  I struggled with this and wanted to find a different approach, one where both parties felt better after their sessions.

So here at Equenergy I’m exploring a different way.

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know that we have 2 horses living here.  Both have had challenging experiences in the past.  Dakota (Dax) was taken from his mother at 1 month of age and left to starve.  When he was rescued, he was riddled with worms and had to have extensive veterinary support.  Thankfully he is now a very healthy 8-year-old, however his tough start in life has left him with some emotional issues.

‘Rika was a brood mare for many years.  She was used for breeding and all of her foals were taken from her to be sold on.  When she didn’t conceive after being put with a stallion, they decided that she was no longer of any use and put her out for the meat wagon.  She is the most beautiful, gentle soul you could ever hope to meet, but she was considered ‘worthless’ if she couldn’t produce any more foals.

‘Rika (left) and Dakota (Dax)

These 2 beautiful animals support me in my work, and I want this to be something that benefits them too and supports them in becoming happier and healthier individuals.

I believe that for anyone to offer a therapeutic space for another, they should have the space and opportunity to have that support for themselves.  As a therapist and coach myself, I need to have worked – and be continuing to work – on my own issues in order to be able to hold a healing space for others.  I think this is also true for animals who are involved in this field. 

All of us are still ‘works in progress’ and there is much to be gained by travelling the healing path together. Take, for example, the programmes in America where offenders are paired with rescued dogs or horses and together they learn how to create a healthier, more balanced life for themselves. 

I’d love to see more opportunities for mutual learning, creation and growth of this kind.  We might not have the perfect answers yet, but with time and an open, curious mindset, hopefully we will find a way to walk alongside our animals in ways where they benefit from the partnership as much as we do.

I recently wrote about ‘rewilding’, and I believe strongly that our animals have much to teach us on this subject, too.  But in order for them to be able to do so more fully and authentically, they must be allowed to be as ‘wild’ as possible themselves.  I know that this is a real challenge, on even a small scale, with the resources that most of us have available, but I think that the more we can give healthy freedom to the animals in our care, even when it challenges us, the more we can learn and grow.

So how do I bring people and horses together?

A session with the horses here at Equenergy means that you get to stand just outside the field and start by getting grounded and tuning in to the energy of the place and all the living things around you.  Horses are naturally curious animals so often they soon come over to meet with us and may spend some time in this shared space.

I encourage people to be ‘mindful’, that is, to be fully aware of their surroundings: the sun, breeze or even rain on their skin, the sounds, sights and smells around them.  This helps us to get present, and when we’re fully present it helps us to release anxieties and tensions as these generally relate to memories from the past or worries about the future. 

When we can be in this ‘present’ state and hold that energy / vibration, it encourages those around us to enter this same state.  It’s rather like a tuning fork that causes other things to resonate with the same frequency.  Calming our breathing and our heart rate, through getting present, supports others to do the same.  It’s a phenomenon known as ‘entrainment’  and you can read more about it in the work of the HeartMath Institute and Dr Ellen Kaye Gehrke.  Horses are particularly sensitive to this, so when we can enter this state in their presence, it supports their wellbeing as well as our own.  Not only that, but their electromagnetic field is much larger and stronger than ours, so when they enter into this state it strengthens the energy for us – this creates a wonderful healing circle with the energy flowing in and around and bringing benefit to all within the space.

Another aspect of this for the person / people in the session is that I ask them to observe and take note of any feelings and thoughts that are coming up for them.  I might also ask them to see what they can feel from the horses: can they get a sense of their energy? Do they pick up anything when they tune in to either / both of them?  These are things that we can then explore if they would like to work further with me, using a tailored wellbeing package, looking at any issues they wish to address, or objectives that they would like to achieve.

If this is something that would interest you, or you’d like to have a taster session with the horses to see if it resonates with you, I’m happy to have a no-obligation chat.  Just give me a call or drop me a line:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980669303

https://equenergy.com/contact-location/

What is this thing called ‘Rewilding’?

…and what, if anything, does it have to do with me?

According to Rewilding Britain:

Rewilding is the large-scale restoration of ecosystems where nature can take care of itself. It seeks to reinstate natural processes and, where appropriate, missing species – allowing them to shape the landscape and the habitats within.

https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding

To me, though, rewilding can take place on a smaller scale too.  I think that we can look at our own lives and see how we can add a bit of ‘wild’ in order to have greater balance and wellbeing.

In fact, this is something that I have been exploring for a while and it’s part of the reason why I was so keen to move to a more rural location.

When we started house hunting last year I was just thinking of a house, with a paddock for the horses, situated in a more rural location, but the more properties we saw, the more excited and inspired I became about the possibilities that were opening up to us, both personally and for my practice.

Finding this place was like a dream come true!  We first visited on a glorious summer evening and as we viewed the woods and fields and felt the energy of this place, we both fell in love and could picture ourselves living in this magical space.

In many ways, it’s the perfect location – when you’re here, you feel far removed from the hustle and bustle that characterises most people’s daily lives, and yet we’re within easy reach of the town of Abergavenny. 

There is a great sense of stillness and peace here, and everywhere you look there is the green of trees, bushes and grasses. 

At this time of year we also have many wonderful flowers in bloom. 

The sounds are wonderful too:

  • the stream gurgling over stones
  • breezes blowing through the branches of the trees
  • birds singing
  • insects buzzing…

There’s also a wide variety of wildlife.  Obviously there are lots of birds, including many common species such as robins, blackbirds, bluetits and wagtails.  We have birds of prey too, such as owls and buzzards, and some summer visitors such as swallows, but also the less common pied flycatcher. 

Our mammal neighbours include rabbits, squirrels, voles, mice, and shrews, and I’ve also seen a couple of lizards.

This Wednesday we have a guy coming from the Gwent Wildlife Trust to do a survey of the land and give us tips on how to work with all the species that we have here, to do our best to maintain and support this little eco-system.  I’m very excited to find out more!

To me, the joy – and challenge – of living here is to find ways to live in harmony with this place and its diversity of life.  I want to find a balance where we can all enjoy this wonderful space – humans, plants and animals. 

I believe that there are many benefits to reconnecting with Nature in this way.  Research has shown that spending time outdoors helps us to let go of stress, find our inner balance and recharge our batteries (This is your brain on Nature).

Rewilding doesn’t always come easily for us though.  We are so used to our ‘creature comforts’ and having whatever we want right there at our fingertips.  We live in a society that seems to be built on – and value – speed: fast food, broadband speeds and instant messaging.  We say that ‘time is money’, and we tend to prefer things that will get us what we want in the shortest time – eg travel, delivery services and searching the internet for information.

But this ‘need for speed’ comes at a price.  It is exhausting!  And it’s addictive.  Once we’re hooked, it can be difficult to slow our pace again, to reconnect with ourselves, to take the time to listen to our bodies and to give ourselves the nurturing and support that we need.

Often, we have lost sight of the fact that we, as humans, are just a part of the picture.  We are simply one thread of the rich tapestry of Nature.  We need the other threads in order to create a rich, colourful, dynamic and sustainable world.

I believe that when we are connected, conscious and aware of this, we can live in balance, harmony and respect with all Life. 

Here in our little cottage, we’ve had other beings come to share our space.  Sometimes this can make us uncomfortable – we don’t want the spiders, ants, mice, wasps, flies or whatever in our homes! 

But I tend to look at it another way… 

  • this is their space as much as it is ours
  • their kind has been living here much longer than I have
  • they too just want to live out their lives, and do their thing, whatever that might be – they’re not ‘invading my space’ and it’s not personal!

That’s not to say that I want all these creatures sharing my home – and in an ideal world they would often be better off being back outside – so I then try to explore why they have been drawn inside.   What am I doing that is making my home attractive to them?  For example, am I leaving food available for them?

On a larger scale, there are often complaints about the rat population of cities, or seagulls stealing food from people in coastal towns, but I think that we need to look at our own responsibilities too, such as the amount of food that goes to waste and is dumped outside in containers that are not animal-proof.  This both supports the current population – and its growth – and attracts more individuals to the area.

So, for me, part of rewilding is to look at my responsibilities as a part of this eco-system:

  • How do I become aware and conscious of my actions and how they affect the other threads of this tapestry? 
  • How do I minimise my impact while also supporting the local flora and fauna?

Doing this, I believe, will support me in my balance and wellbeing.  After all, how can I be fully well if I live in an environment which is out of balance?

If this is something that is of interest to you too, or you’d just like to have a taste of the healing power of Nature, then take a look at my day retreat which is taking place next Saturday here at Equenergy: Wellbeing Naturally.  If you’d like to know more about the day, or you’d like to book a place, please click on the link below:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reconnect-through-nature-day-retreat-tickets-60580175937

It’s all about perspective

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about perspective this week – by which I mean the way we look at things.

The perspective that we take has such a huge impact on the experiences that we have!

I used to be someone who was always waiting for the bad things to happen.  For a variety of reasons, I had learnt that Life was difficult, rarely went to plan, and was often against me.  I just ‘knew’ that good things couldn’t last and that sooner or later – probably sooner – there would be another big problem to face.  I was anxious, worried and operating in stress mode.

I’m still a work in progress on this, and a deeply ingrained perspective can take time to shift, but overall there is a lot more ‘sunshine’ in my life now.

Moving to our new site here in Wales has really tested me on this!  It’s been a huge shift, leaving the city suburbs and moving to a rural smallholding.  Nothing seems to function in the same way!  Cities have such a solid infrastructure: services and utilities generally flow smoothly to and from one’s home, and you rarely have to think much about it.  Here we’ve struggled with internet connection and our water is from a spring so we’ve had to sort out an alternative for the horses as their pond and stream have dried up.  The house still has good water at the moment, but if we have a spell of dry weather, will this continue?  Will we be able to wash ourselves, our clothes, our dishes?

We now have to manage our own supplies of gas and oil as these have to be delivered, where previously our heating and cooking facilities were constantly available at the flick of a switch.  The septic tank, too, requires attention.

All of these things are easily done, it just takes some getting used to, and can be a source of those little niggles – Will I notice when the gas cylinder / oil tank is running low?  Will I order in time to avoid running out?  Will I be able to do this at a time when the price is good?  Will the septic tank block up / overflow… and if it does, what will I do?

I’m sure that in time the management of these things will become the new ‘norm’ but for now it’s still new and a little out of our comfort zone.

It’s good, though, to challenge ourselves.  It’s only through challenges that we can learn and grow.  If things stay the same all the time, there is no incentive or motivation to push ourselves and we can end up stagnating.

In the past, I craved ‘safety’.  I didn’t really feel ‘comfortable’, but still I had a kind of comfort zone in the routines that I’d built up, as these gave me a sense of having enough control to be able to cope.  And yet there was the constant worry that things would go wrong and the knowing, somewhere deep inside, that I didn’t really have control and things could suddenly shift away from where I felt safe.

Over time, I came to see that the more I tried to hold rigidly to my ‘structured life’, the more I felt overwhelmed.  The more I tried to control things, the less control I actually had.  I also began to see how unhappy I was and how my wellbeing was suffering.

Having spent a lot of time pondering on this – in my head and heart, and through keeping a personal journal – I began to see that the only thing I could control was my perspective, my choice of lens through which to view the world and the experiences that came my way.

I’ve been very fortunate, too, and I can testify that the old saying is true:

When we open ourselves to new learning, when we set the intention that we’re ready to grow and ready to take on the challenges that this brings, then something shifts and we will see opportunities where we might not have noticed them before, or someone will come into our lives and challenge, guide or inspire us in some way.

The thing with stepping out of our comfort zone is that it is… well… uncomfortable!  If we’re not prepared for this then we can end up rushing back to where we feel safe.  This is why people ‘fall off the wagon’ and return to old behaviours.

But if we acknowledge that there will be challenges, and we address these constructively, then we’re much more likely to succeed in making the changes we’re aiming for.

So, how can we address the challenges constructively?  Some suggestions would be:

  • To consider what triggers the behaviour you want to change – knowing this allows you to put plans in place for when you face these situations
  • Accepting that there will be times when you feel triggered and that this will result in you feeling uncomfortable
  • Being ok with discomfort
    • It can be a great teacher, helping us to look at our needs and find supportive ways in which to meet these
    • Trusting that it won’t last forever and that it’s just your body adjusting to the new way
    • That it is a short-term thing that will lead to a happier, healthier you
    • Knowing that it helps to build greater self-knowledge, resilience and emotional intelligence
  • Having a list of things to do when feeling triggered
    • How can you support yourself to stick to your commitment in making this change?
    • For example
      • do something active, such as going for a walk in Nature
      • Talk to a good and supportive friend
      • Journal
      • Read things that encourage and inspire you

As I said, I’m still a work in progress with all of this.  My mindset and thinking have changed greatly, and I now view the world in a much more positive light.  I believe that the Universe is a supportive place and that Life is bringing me so many wonderful experiences and encounters that are helping me to step ever more fully into Who I Really Am.

However, I’ve noticed that my body is still holding tensions that come from my old way of thinking. 

Whereas before I might have worried about this and listened to lots of critical self-talk, I am now able to view it as an opportunity to address another layer in my personal growth and development.

This is where I am now grateful for my earlier challenges and discomfort, as facing myself and exploring those less pleasant feelings and those aspects of my personality that I’m not so proud of, is not as daunting as it would once have been.

Also, I know that if I can help myself to release this tension, it will bring many benefits!

Thankfully I now have a wide range of tools to draw on, and also a number of great colleagues that I can ask for help as necessary.

But one thing that I was pondering on as I poo picked in the fields the other day – a great time for reflection, I’ve noticed! – is that the things that help me to let go of tension, anxiety and worry are amusement and delight

So, the task I’ve set for myself is to:

  1. Notice when and where I’m holding tension
  2. Accept that this is how I’m feeling – without adding to it by beating myself up about it, or worrying about it
  3. Commit to finding ways to support myself and to release the tension
  4. Look for ways that I can bring more amusement and delight into my life, on the small scale as well as the bigger scale

Some of my joy recently has come from:

So, in moving here I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, but it has brought realisation that:

  • I was feeling stifled in the city
  • Structure can be good, but it can also become rigid, inflexible and constricting
  • New experiences can be stimulating and inspiring
  • Challenges can help you discover hidden strengths and skills
  • New adventures can be fun
  • Overcoming problems can bring such a sense of achievement and learning
  • Living closer to nature is teaching me so much about myself, and inspiring me to greater care for the planet
  • Meeting new people and making new friends is wonderful
  • There is so much more to me than I had dared to believe!

So I highly recommend getting out of your comfort zone (even just in little ways to start with), pushing your boundaries, trying new adventures and exploring some new perspectives. You might be surprised at what you find!

Positive thinking – is it always a good thing? (part 1/4) – Repost for Mental Health Awareness Week

As #mentalhealthawarenessweek2019 draws to a close, I thought I would take this opportunity to reshare a blog that I wrote a while ago on why I think we should exercise the ‘3 C’s around #PositiveThinking :

– Caution

– Care

– Conscious consideration

Sometimes I think that the trend for advocating Positive Thinking has got a little out of balance, where people are pushing themselves to feel happy all the time and then feeling that they’ve failed when they fall short of this impossible expectation.

Equenergy: Wellbeing Naturally

Our lives seem to be full of contradictions!  On the one hand we’re bombarded by news that is often negative and full of doom and gloom, while on the other we’re encouraged to be positive, smile and avoid negative thoughts for the sake of our health.

So what’s the answer?!

Well, first of all let’s look at why positive thinking can bring great benefits.  The cycle goes like this:

The thoughts that we think create the perspective from which we look at things.  This influences the filters through which we interpret the world around us.  This determines our experiences, which help to form our beliefs about that world.  Our beliefs are what our thoughts are based upon, and so the cycle continues…

Obviously if we think positive thoughts, and can carry this on round the cycle, then we will be happier than if we are plagued by negative thoughts, however…

View original post 200 more words

Stress Awareness Month – part 3

As this last post of Stress Awareness Month, I thought I’d look at the wisdom that we hold within ourselves.

Our bodies know how to be well, it’s just that often we have disconnected from that wisdom.  If we can find a way to reconnect and re-member that wisdom (as Neale Donald Walsch might say) then we can rediscover our balance and wellbeing.

Every cell of our being holds a blueprint of how it is designed to function and what it needs in order to operate most effectively.  When we can tune in to this and be fully open to allowing it, then the body will naturally find its way back to this pattern.

However, due to stress and the traumas that we experience in our lives (both ‘Big T’ and ‘little t’ traumas – and remember that these are very subjective and don’t always ‘make sense’ to our analytical minds) we can find ourselves not fully able to trust this process and allow our bodies to find the balance they were designed for.

We might have learnt patterns of behaviour which, originally, were put in place to help us feel safe, but over time they have become stifling and restrictive, actually stopping us from growing and becoming the happy, healthy, creative being we were designed to be.

The rules and expectations of our society can also seem to place restrictions and demands on us, limiting our choices or shaping us into a particular role, which might not actually be where our Spirit would choose to be.

So what can you do?  How can you get back to the wellbeing and ‘flow’ that you were made for?

I believe that we can do this through reconnecting to Nature – both the Nature all around us, and to our own true Nature, in all its forms and colours. 

A wonderful and wise woman once shared a song with me that had a great impact on how I saw myself and the life I was living.  Sadly, it was many years ago and I long ago lost the recording and don’t have a copy of the exact lyrics, but it was about how looking at the sunset reminds us that our life is supposed to contain all the colours.  We weren’t designed for a bland, monochrome existence, but for one that is full of bright, vivid colour.  This encompasses all the emotions, both the ‘safe’ and ‘acceptable’ ones, and also the ‘scary’ and ‘ugly’ ones.  We need to embrace them all and learn how to be a good steward of them, so that they don’t end up controlling us on some subconscious level.

I also think that it is very important to pay attention to the messages that we give ourselves, both through our words, and our body language.

One simple example, in regards to vocabulary is this:

And for body language, consider this question:

Often, we think that our body language comes from our feelings – and it does.  But it can also work the other way round. 

Our posture is part of a bio-feedback loop.

When our spine is straight and our shoulders down and back (comfortably, not forced) then our lungs have space and we can breathe more freely. Also, our heart centre is open. 

When we slump, the opposite is true, and this is telling the body that we are not at our best in some way. It can encourage feelings of tiredness, anxiety and stress.

Think of the way that many of us spend our days: slumped in front of a computer screen, or the TV, or staring at our mobile phone…

How much is this contributing to our stress levels?

This is why it’s so beneficial to take a break, stand up, move around, pay attention to your posture and breath, and if possible, spend some time outdoors in natural light. 

So, if you’re in a situation currently where you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, chronic fatigue or dis-ease, then hang in there.  You can still make the journey back to health and wellbeing.  As Anthony William, the Medical Medium, says:

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been sick.  You can heal. 
Always remember that and never forget it.”


Some thoughts on my highs and lows of winter horse care!

The last couple of weeks have felt pretty tough here at Equenergy. This is my first year of being a horse carer, having welcomed Dax back in May last year, and Rika in October when we moved to Wales and got our own land. It has been a steep learning curve!

About a week ago, on Friday, we had the first snow of the season and, obviously, the first since our move. Suddenly I was having to feed the horses much more hay, as they were unable to access any grass. We were already running a little low, and had arranged an order for the Sunday anyway, but it quickly became clear that there probably wouldn’t be enough to get us through the remaining day, night and morning before we picked up more supplies.

I went through uncomfortable feelings of guilt at not being better prepared and getting into a situation where the horses might suffer because of my lack of foresight…

This came on top of me already feeling rather low, mostly due to exhaustion, which was the result of a combination of factors:

  • the short days which never seem to have enough daylight to get everything done
  • the relentless-seeming round of daily poo picking; often in wind, rain, mud and semi-darkness at this time of year
  • juggling appointments, working on the house, business stuff (such as updating my website, networking, etc) and caring for the animals
  • still not having any proper internet, phone or TV connection
  • the time it takes to get things done because of the above challenges.

As you might have spotted, reading the above list, another drain on my energy has been the high level of expectation that I place on myself!

At times I’ve felt rather alone and vulnerable, and it was at one of these moments that I received some comments on a post that I’d made on Facebook. From the perspective of this low point they hit a nerve and felt like criticism. I was tempted to hide away and feel sorry for myself, but instead I decided it would be more productive to take a step back and look at the situation with a more objective view.

Doing this I quickly realised that the comments were far from being critical. They were actually just someone who cared deeply about an issue, expressing their thoughts. However their message threw a spotlight on a need in me that I hadn’t been addressing (old insecurities about how people see me and being ‘good enough’), which was bringing up old hurts and leaving me experiencing emotional discomfort. I could see that this provided a great opportunity for me to work on this inner pain in order to release it, taking a further step in setting myself free from the things that hold and restrict me. I explored the sensations I was experiencing and used them to identify where I needed to change my thoughts to be more supportive.

There are a variety of ways that we can do this kind of exploration:

  • journaling
  • mindfulness
  • meditation
  • talking with a friend or a professional coach / therapist
  • I personally used EFT (emotional freedom techniques, or ‘tapping’) as this helps to reduce painful emotions, meaning that I could look at things with greater clarity

I’ve had to remind myself, too, that change is often painful, as it pushes us out of our comfort zone. This is true, even when we were the ones who decided to make the change. Even when we know in our heads what to expect, the raw reality, and the unknown duration of the discomfort, can make it hard to keep going, and to keep trusting that we’ve made the right choices. This is especially true when we’re feeling tired, alone or unsupported.

Often when we’re feeling low, our inner critic goes into overdrive. I had to remind myself that this part of me is just trying to keep me safe, but in actual fact it’s made up of thoughts and beliefs that are untrue, or at least greatly exaggerated, and viewed from a negative bias. But I am able to choose my thoughts and beliefs, which in turn impacts on my perceptions, emotions, behaviours and the outcomes I experience. If I choose to focus on more positive, uplifting, optimistic thoughts, then I will experience more supportive, hopeful feelings, leading to behaviours which are more likely to produce the outcomes that I desire.

Sometimes we can get stuck in a negative cycle, particularly when we’re feeling run down, which is why it’s so important to take care of ourselves, doing our best to get quality rest, eat healthily, spend time outdoors in the fresh air and engage in exercise that we enjoy. It’s also important to reach out for help when we need it. Things can feel too big to face alone, but with another pair of hands / eyes, suddenly they seem much more manageable. Also, we are social creatures. We need to feel connected. When this is missing from our lives, the world can feel like a very big, scary and lonely place. Even if you feel that no-one can help, it’s still worth reaching out, as even doing something as simple as meeting a friend for a cup of coffee can bring a bit of brightness to your day and make things seem much less bleak.

Taking action in this way has also helped me to remember the many ‘highs’ of our new life here in Wales, and having horses with us. It’s so lovely to be able to spend time with them, either connecting through activities, or just being in their presence and feeling their calming, grounding energy. I’ve been seeing some subtle changes in Dax, where he seems to be processing things and being less reactive. He can tend to show some fear aggression, reverting to inappropriate behaviours – such as biting and pushing – when he feels anxious, but having started some clicker play with him, I’ve seen how he’s using his brain to find other ways to approach situations. Doing this in a safe environment seems to be giving him confidence in other areas of his life as well. Occasionally he seems to take a backwards step, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it can take time to change habits that have been held for long periods of time so I just need to remain patient and keep remembering all the good things in him so that he can see these too and step into them more fully.

Another ‘high’ is that Rika is opening up more and more each day. When she first arrived here, everything was so new for her. She’d been taken away from her people, her herd and the environment that was familiar to her. It has taken her a while to find her feet but she now regularly approaches us to say Hello, or for a cuddle or a scratch. She’s such a gentle and graceful creature that it’s a joy to spend this time with her!

I’m also deeply grateful for this amazing space all around us. The landscape is so beautiful and the light changes almost in every moment! We are surrounded by birdsong from early morning to well into the evening and it’s magical to watch the onward march of the seasons.

If you are experiencing painful emotions that feel like they’re taking over your life, and you’d like to explore some constructive ways to address the underlying issues so that you can reconnect with your balance, joy and wellbeing, then please get in touch for a no obligation chat.

PS For those of you wondering about the horses and their hay: I rang our lovely hay man, Gwyn, on the Friday and he happily gave us a couple of bales the next day which easily got us through to Sunday when we collected our order. This reminded me again that worry is unproductive and that when I reach out, help is there, supporting me through the ‘dramas’ of my life and showing me that, in fact, all is well in the end 🙂