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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 3:42 pm 
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Location: Devon, United Kingdom
Romy, I thought about this with three mules at work. They are grossly overweight, but have life threatening breathing problems, so they have to be out 24/7 so that they don't live in a dusty environment. Now that they are on new spring pasture, this means that they need to be let out in the morning, and brought in at night, with a rather unappealing meal of very soaked hay waiting for them... Now, the day before I had to get them in, some other members of staff had chased them in with a lunge whip and lots of shouting. The following day, softie here decided to take a different tack. I put a small amount of carrots and pony nuts (I know, I bent the rules of their strict diet ;) ). I then called them all, shook the bucket, and sprinkled their yard with the tasty treats. This really doesn't always work, so I was ready to go back to the drawing board and possibly have to do the same as the staff the day before, but I decided first to give them the benefit of the doubt and be nice first. The little round bellied darlings came running in! Now, if I had my way, I would have done the same the next day. Unfotunately the staff the next day used the chasing approach.

How does your idea about the habit apply, if the animals have a different trainer with a different approach each day? I'm really interested in this, because to my mind the mules training went from negative, to positive, to negative... So when I go back to work on friday, will they still come running in, or will they give us humans a good run for our money?


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:34 pm 
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Yesterday we had a wonderful talk here at the university, by Sander Koole. The title was something along the lines of "Does focusing on your goals guarantee success?" Goal setting theories usually assume that you will be most likely to reach your goals if you focus on them and do your very best. However, he showed that this completely depends on a personality trait called Action/State Orientation (by Julius Kuhl). Action oriented people are those who get things done. When they fail, they don't ruminate too much but use that as feedback for doing better next time. They often love challenges and flourish under difficult task conditions. In contrast, state oriented people tend to ruminate about failure, are easily discouraged if something doesn't work, and their focus is more on the current state ("I just cannot do this") instead of the things that can be done to change this ("This is an opportunity to learn").

Anyway, what Sander Koole explained was that while action oriented people benefit a lot from setting clear goals and sticking to them, for state oriented people this only makes it worse. It decreases their performance in cognitively demanding tasks, increases the interference they experience from competing tasks and their tendency to perseverate (stick to a task that is not relevant anymore). And most strikingly for me, it prevents them form mobilizing cognitive control to adjust to difficult situations. That is, when they focus harder, this does not only prevent them from doing well but als from being able to change anything about that. It's as if they were getting blocked by their focus on the goal. He used an analogy of tensing up your muscles when you are preparing to do something, but then for actually doing it you must let go of that tension and put all your power into the action. State oriented people seeem to get stuck in the tension, so that acting becomes impossible.

Instead, what helps them immensely is when they are instructed to not focus too much on their goal but relax and take it easy. They should just sit back, breath calmly, and allow the situation to come to them in its own time. Whereas action oriented people suffer from a strategy like that (they really relax and just don't make any effort anymore) for state oriented people it can remove their blockage.

I am very thankful for having heard this talk, because once again it showed how people are so different in their way of dealing with difficulties - which I knew before of course, but the thing that was not clear to me was how much it actually deteriorates performance. When working with very state oriented people, I always tended to think like "Well, it's hard for her to put effort into it and focus, but that only means that she has to stay positive, give her best and then it will all work out." Well, apparently not. Can't wait to become a more considerate helper. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:09 pm 
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This is just a little 'Thank you' post for the children. :giveflower:


Thank you for making our life and interaction so normal - there are no words to describe how valuable it is for me that there are people who simply behave in ways that I understand.

Thank you for making running our default way of moving, and for defining "wild" as the primary goal in terms of a horse's behaviour.

Thank you for being such wonderful friends and family for our horses.

Thank you for being such an amazing group, helping the small ones, having fun with each other.

Thank you for always teaching me and learning from me.

Thank you for experimenting on your own, and for just trying things out instead of thinking about it until there is nothing left.

Thank you for being there whenever there is a really difficult situation with the horses - so nice to know that I can count on you 100%.

Thank you for not being "polite" but just doing what needs to be done (e.g. going into my house without my knowledge and preparing our supper).

Thank you for forcing me to get out of my beloved hermit life every now and then.

Thank you for having all those ideas that I would never have thought of.

Thank you for not being afraid to fail but trying things, anyhow.

Thank you for being so happy about our pasture life and in that way confirming that this is just the right way for me - no career in this world could compensate for this.

Thank you for being there again. and again. and again. There are not many things that I would want to be constant in my life, but you certainly are.


THANK YOU. :kiss:


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:13 am 
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15 Thank you's that coming from your mouth... :ieks: :green:

(I remember as you told me once that you don't like to say this in general.)

Such a warmly feedback! :f:


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:50 am 
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Lena wrote:
15 Thank you's that coming from your mouth... :ieks: :green:

(I remember as you told me once that you don't like to say this in general.)


Oh, this must have been a misunderstanding. For me, gratitude is something that I am feeling all the time, and I love to be thankful. What I don't like is to say thanks without meaning it, just because it is polite. Or actually I do not even mind saying it (because I am thankful most of the time, anyway), but I prefer it when people don't say it to me unless they really mean it. :smile:


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:48 am 
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Today is one of these days on which I am puzzled about the way many people's minds seem to work. These thoughts got triggered by someone saying that a horse needed to be reprimanded very strongly, because this was supposed to make the horse see the boundaries more clearly and make him feel more at ease. So using punishment is not something that has to do with the human's preferences or ways of relating to others but is applied solely for the sake of the horse. I hear these statements again and again, often with quite elaborate explanations added, and there is one thing I am always wondering about: Why are many people so willing to make such statements about others (horses in this case, but I have heard it being said about employees, children and other low-ranking groups of people as well), while at the same time there is almost nobody who would say this about himself?

I have never, ever heard anybody say that he felt the need to be shouted at because this would make things so clear to him and finally give him the chance to feel safe. I do not even hear people say that they needed their options for free choice to be restricted, or that they needed clear boundaries. For some funny reasons, these limitations seem to be something that is only necessary for others, not for oneself. It reminds me a bit of these studies showing that 80+ % of people consider themselves to be above average in intelligence and pretty much every skill that is being tested.

I do not mean to belittle this. There certainly is a reason for these biases, otherwise they would not have developed. But still it amazes me again and again that people do not seem to mentally put themselves into the other one's shoes for a moment when making such statements, asking themselves whether it would be possible to make a similar statement about themselves. Same thing with these popular concepts like respect... I still have to find the person who would use "I am lacking respect" as an explanation for his behaviour in situations in which he is choosing to no do what he is being told. Oh, if I could make one wish, I would ask for the ability to place myself into other people's minds for a few moments, just to be able to better understand. :f:


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:11 pm 
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So true, Romy. It reminds me of an article by german ethologist and clicker trainer Marlitt Wendt titled: "Would you like to be your horse?". It's the simple concept of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", that is often so hard to implement in daily life. And it touches one of my favourite topics these days: empathy. As I think about children and of course my infant son in particular, I often ask myself the question how one does develop a sense of empathy. While I believe that it is an inherent trait of human kind and every higher animal in fact, there seems to be the case of people having their ability reduced to empathically link to other living beings (or nature as a whole).
The cure (or prevention) is to get in touch with nature, I believe. But that is getting more and more difficult these days, especially in urban areas. I think what we need is not just nature parks where nature is preserved. But I think we desperately need more areas where nature can be experienced first hand. Not via multimedia shows or artificial substitutes, but where children can build treehouses, climb trees, get themselves muddy, scratch their elbows and scrape their knees :f:

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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:49 pm 
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Volker wrote:
And it touches one of my favourite topics these days: empathy. As I think about children and of course my infant son in particular, I often ask myself the question how one does develop a sense of empathy. While I believe that it is an inherent trait of human kind and every higher animal in fact, there seems to be the case of people having their ability reduced to empathically link to other living beings (or nature as a whole).


I am a bit short of time at the moment, but here is a book chapter that might be of interest: The Development of Empathy: How, When, and Why

More later... :)


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:58 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:22 am
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Quote:
These thoughts got triggered by someone saying that a horse needed to be reprimanded very strongly, because this was supposed to make the horse see the boundaries more clearly and make him feel more at ease.


I think many people mistake "setting boundaries" to "clear feedback". I think the first one is important only in setting your own boundaries on what is exaptable behaviour towards yourself. For the one on the other side, it is actually the latter one which is important. I think it is about social interaction, on how do I stand with someone else. If I get a clear feedback, I need not puzzle that out. Especially for insecure people and horses, not knowing where he/she am standing with someone may be a lot of stress. Like a horse newly in a herd, but all of the time. I actually got feedback from a friend once that I didn't give her enough feedback, in that moment on her riding Pantis predecessor. She told me that this stressed her very much.

I am also very strongly of the opinion that force is not the answer, in contrast, that it may result in even more insecurity. Many people mistake "small to no answer", which is all that is left when you don't dare do anything anymore, for agreement.


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:27 pm 
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jaz wrote:
I think many people mistake "setting boundaries" to "clear feedback". I think the first one is important only in setting your own boundaries on what is exaptable behaviour towards yourself. For the one on the other side, it is actually the latter one which is important.


Thank you for spelling it out so clearly. I totally agree! :f:

jaz wrote:
Many people mistake "small to no answer", which is all that is left when you don't dare do anything anymore, for agreement.


Yes, but I think it's even more difficult due to the reconciliation behaviour that social species use (if anyone wants to know more, you might check out Frans de Waal, who also has several videos in the internet). Some horses really are nicer, more cooperative and seemingly even more motivated after being hit or chased or reprimanded in any other strong way. I think that large parts of that are a form of renewing the social glue and protecting the herd bonds, but how easy is it just to interpret this behaviour as the horse being happy about finally knowing his place?


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:05 pm 

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Quote:
Some horses really are nicer, more cooperative and seemingly even more motivated after being hit or chased or reprimanded in any other strong way. I think that large parts of that are a form of renewing the social glue and protecting the herd bonds, but how easy is it just to interpret this behaviour as the horse being happy about finally knowing his place?

I love that explanation, it makes totally sense for me! And it's true for humans as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 1:55 pm 
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Another point which might stand in the way of being empathic towards another being is that it is very much reinforcing for many people, when the other side does something "because I said so". I know from myself how hard that is to overcome :blush:.

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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 5:49 pm 
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Volker wrote:
Another point which might stand in the way of being empathic towards another being is that it is very much reinforcing for many people, when the other side does something "because I said so".


Yes, and that's where it gets really fascinating for me, when this goes together with the need to emphasize that the other one actually wants it or needs it. How can these two seemingly opposing motives (the other one wanting it too versus the other one having nothing to say) be combined? Is it that people want the other one to agree with the whether but having no say about the what? Is it that they believe he wants it too, secretly, but is not competent to know that it is good for him and therefore needs to be told? Or are the two parts simply not combined so that a cognitive dissonance emerges and then this is the reason why many discussions about this topic end up in big fuzzy words that make it impossible to get to the essence of what is actually meant?


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:43 pm 
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I said I'd explain about my need for miscellaneous activities, interests and passions in my life, so here we go. For as long as I can remember, people have suggested that I am wasting my potential.

What a good mother you'd be - such a shame that you don't get children!
What a good therapist you'd be - such a shame that you are refusing to help others in this way!
What a good horse trainer you'd be - such a shame that you leave people alone with their problems instead of helping them!
What a good professor you'd be - such a shame that you don't do the things necessary to become really successful, that you aren't living up to the responsibility you should feel for society!


Sometimes it comes with the reproach and sometimes without, but the underlying theme always seems to be this: I should focus on one particular activity, and then align my life to that, because everything else is harmful distraction. Perhaps other-but-the-one things can be a hobby, but my focus should be on only one thing. For instance, it's always so funny when colleagues tell me that it's nice that I am having the horses as a balance in addition to work (and how do you manage, isn't this a bit much...?), and then they look utterly puzzled when I say that I am not sure if it isn't the other way around, so that work is the balance for my life with the horses and children. But this happens in any direction depending on who I am talking to. People hold completely opposing views on what is the right thing for me to do, and what is a waste of my time and potential. Well, perhaps I am lucky that these well-meant suggestions have always been so contradictory, because this showed me that indeed there is no right or wrong, which makes it easy to conclude that I can simply choose what I like best.

I do not want my life to rest on only one pillar. I want to be able to imagine that tomorrow someone will come and tell me that I can never work again, without this making me feel that my life is over. I want it to be possible for any person or animal to be taken out of my life without this loss destroying me. The reason why I want this multiple dependence (independence would miss the point) is not only to prevent difficulties in case something is really taken away. Most of all I want it in order to be able to enjoy the things that I do have. An obvious example to illustrate this is my work. In science, many people are under enormous stress, because they feel a high degree of competition and thus have to worry that if they do not work themselves to pieces, they will drop out. Thus, they often cannot enjoy their work anymore or even have to do things that they'd rather not do for private, moral or any other reasons. I have never had these problems. For me my work is utmost fun and pleasure, but I think this is because I am not afraid to fail - because if I fail, I still have all these other wonderful things in my life.

The other way in which multiple dependence is helping me is in contructing meaning for the things I do. For example, once our secretary told me that science would not be for her because it is a waste of time as you do not actually help others or produce anything. This thought of not doing anything meaningful can get people into serious crises, and then often they persuade themselves that the content of their work in fact is very important, and the others are just ignorant to not see it. This also is a problem which I do not have. When talking to our secretary I could simply tell her that if nothing else, my scientific work is important in order to make me happy and keep me thinking, and this in turn is something that I need in order to be of value for the children, the horses, or other people and their horses. In turn, I need the positive social interactions I get from my private and horse-related life in order to be a good scientist. So everything is influencing each other, which would not be possible if I had only one interest. This is something that Jana and Anni reminded me of recently, and that's why I am writing this post now.


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 Post subject: Re: Everyday thoughts
PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:49 pm 
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Thank you for sharing this with us!
So did I get it right, that you make a difference between independence and multiple dependence? And that you prefer the second one? This sounds reall intetesting, because that js what I also want. :f:


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