This year I learned a big life lesson and something very important about myself. I learned that it is possible to care too much about something - especially something that is out of your scope of control.
Without going into too much detail there was a situation in which I cared so much about the outcome and wanted the best for others that I was unable to take a step back and be objective when I needed to.
When you become so deeply involved in something you lose sight of the big picture, your emotional investment overrides your mental ability to be rational. Regardless of your intentions, when your scale is tipped heavily to the side of emotions you simply are not operating in a place of centered awareness.
This can happen with horsemanship too. The emotion is ambition. We're so enthused and impassioned to reach our goals that we, at times, can over do it. We push, and try, and drill, and become frustrated when it doesn't go as planned.
As you know, fear and frustration have no place in horse training. These are emotions the horse just can't compute. The horse reads us as extremely predatory when we are in that type of mindset. Naturally, this isn't going to help you achieve your goals.
Making a choice not to care too much doesn't mean you shouldn't have goals and it certainly doesn't mean that you shouldn't care about things; it just means you need to stay balanced in your perception of reality.
"Too" is the operative word in my statement. Don't care too much. That means more than is helpful, necessary, and productive to a situation or person. You can love something without overdoing it. This is where having good emotional fitness comes in.
Emotional fitness can mean so many things, if you ask Pat he says it's being in a situation when you have butterflies, being able to control your butterflies and have them fly in formation. Linda says it is staying left brain in a right brain situation. Dr. Jenny Susser says it is having the ability to rise to meet a difficult situation without compromising your ethics and character.
I would add to their sentiments and say that emotional fitness is being able to be aware of yourself so much so that you know when you're not being emotionally fit and then remove yourself from that situation. It's okay if your butterflies don't fly in formation, or if you're not left brain, and if you can't rise up to meet that difficult time.
What is critical is being aware enough to know that you can't or aren't ready to handle something and walk away! Take the time it takes to find your center again before diving in head first to handle something, especially when you are extremely invested in it.
In my case this year, though what I wanted to have happen would have been best for everyone involved, it wasn't my place to force that on them. People have to find their own way, make their own mistakes, and pick themselves up after a fall. I can't make other people's way for them and if I ever do I am robbing them of a valuable learning experience.
Remember this applies to your horsemanship too! Let your horse take you through the journey at their pace, they will learn so much more and the end result will be pure. Your horse is in charge of the principles and the timeline and you are in charge of the purpose and goals.
Our greatest gift to others (and our horses) is to let them live their lives - let them own their experiences. It's a beautiful thing to care deeply about your career, your partner, your children, your horses, and your dreams - just make sure you stay as centered as possible under pressure when you have a high emotional investment.
I hope that there are people and things in your life that you care about like crazy, love with all you have inside of you, and strive to support every day. Just don't take over and let your idea of what you think should be cloud what is out of your control and isn't your business to change.
Go forth now, love life and be emotionally fit!