Ania, it's so nice to have you in the forum and it's interesting to discuss this topic with you because we haven't the same opinion. For me, that's where discussions get really fascinating
. I remember my father taking over a completely different position when discussing with me just because he wants to make me think
. Becoming a confident personWhat I mean with "leader" in the following is a person that decides what to do most of the time not only for himself but for others as well. I don't speak about the kind of leader that is chosen by others because of their ability to make the best decisions.
I have found out that I have trouble with being a leader too. That's because to become a leader, or rather a boss, I have to put rules on others and have to make sure that the other one sticks to these rules. In the past I weren't able to do so without arousing negative feelings. That was because both partners weren't allowed to express their feelings freely and to do what they liked to do. Instead we both had to act as the rules said.
So I asked myself the question what was my goal when I wanted to become a leader? My goal was to build a peaceful interaction with the horse.
So, when I can't build a peaceful interaction by becoming a leader then how
can I build a peaceful interaction?
I needed to make sure that I know what kind of person I wanted to become and how I wanted to behave around others. I decided that I want to learn how to solve problems in another way than to make a rule for everything. I decided that I want to learn how to let positive feelings arise.
Within the process of thinking things through I became more and more confident about myself and the decision I made. I felt better and the beings around me noticed this. I began to act differently, more in tune with my goals, and therefore others reacted differently. I had found the enormous valuable tool of changing myself.
What I see as important now is not a special way to behave, it is not to "be a leader". It is important to find the way I can feel good about, I can be confident about. Only then I can behave authentically and only then the horse knows with whom it has to do.
It is very interesting to see how some horses can adjust to the different ways in which different people interact with them. For example Nathan: he can behave as the "perfect subordinated" horse when he is with people who demand this from him for example the farrier and he can be the funniest "dominant" clown pony which just does what it likes to do when he is with Jana and me. I think what is important is to show the horse honestly who you are.
Who I am isn't static because sometimes I find out that I don't like the way I behave in a situation. Then I try to find out how I would rather behave, I search for thoughts that are more useful to behave in another way and then I can change my feelings, my thoughts and my behaviour. I think within this process my personality is developing and it is good to know that I can change for the better.
We once talked about how horses influence our self-development
I have rules too. Not only with horses but generally in life. These rules aren't static because I often find another rule that is more useful to me and then I delete the old rule or I change it. What I try is not to make rules for the beings around me but for myself. That is because I think that the only way I can change an interaction or a situation is by changing myself, my own behaviour. Then, the reaction of the other one can appear naturally and they don't have to stick to my rules but they can still have their own rules (and I am free to choose if I want to stick to them).
One of these rules is that I take care of myself first, that I have to make sure that I'm fine. That may seem selfish and yes, it is selfish - but with a reason. When I'm not fine but instead feeling weak, ill, have self-doubts, am tired, angry, fearful, then I am not able to control my self and behave in a way that others can take advantage of me. When I'm not fine I can't make someone else feel good. Therefore, I must take care of myself, first.
The second rule is that I try to prevent that I harm others with my bad condition. When I feel bad this is my problem and nothing someone else has to solve for me. What I do is that I tell others that I don't feel as good as normally, for example because I have pain. Than sometimes, when the one is able to (because he's feeling good enough) and wants to, he will offer to help me. That is nothing that is a matter of course, in my opinion, but just a very lovely act I'm thankful for. When I think I really need help I ask someone who is strong enough to help me. But first I make sure that the one feels good.
But what has this to do with horses?
The horse is the horse and I am I. We are individuals with different feelings and sometimes it is hardly possible to be confronted with the other ones feelings and still work it out without conflicts. That's why I want to make sure that everyone is allowed to leave the situation and to decide that he doesn't want to participate in the interaction. That means that I can leave whenever I want and the horse can do so as well. When the horse cannot control his feelings and gets aggressive and I'm not in a state in which I can deal with aggression then I decide to leave the situation. I make sure that I'm fine.
Another "rule" is that in interacting with me everyone is allowed to express his emotions. I want to know how the other one feels because only then I can adjust my behaviour to theirs and change the situation for the better. When the horse gets aggressive or fearful I know that there is a problem I have to deal with (and "problem" is meant in a completely non-negative way). When I know that there is a problem than there is something I can improve and it's great that the horse tells me so.
My goal is a "rule" that I don't only make with myself but therefor I need the agreement of the other being. It is the rule that we speak about ourself first and don't project our feelings onto someone else and that we let the other one choose how to react and don't force them into doing a special thing. For example my goal is to have a horse that shows me when its angry but does this in a way that I'm not endangered to be hurt. I think that I have the responsibility to create an environment in which the horse is able to show me his feelings without forcing me to run away, for example.
To create this environment I have to notice the slightest sings the horse gives me and then I have to react in a way that shows the horse that I have noticed it. When I notice a sign of anger I try to change the situation in a way that anger does not arise in the first place. What I do by this is that I don't wait until the horse thinks it needs to shout because I'm not hearing him but I listen when he is whispering. When your whisper is heard, there is no need to shout. And thereby, there is no need to become aggressive (in the case that the cause of the aggression towards the human is anger
You see, there are many rules even though I don't perceive myself as a leader.How I express my opinion
To speak about myself too is very important for me. I show the horse how I feel and don't act, so that the horse can see in which feelings it is engaging if it choses to interact with me. Of course the horse can always choose to step out of the interaction again. For example when I have a bad day and don't feel able to change my feelings into positive ones I show this to the horse by acting like I feel. But I don't act like I feel TOWARDS the horse so that it has no chance but to react to me. Instead I do whatever I want, sitting there and staring on the ground, walking around doing work and stamping on the ground or whatever. I do what I feel like to do - but it's my business.
Romy wrote a great post about i-messages here
that fits to this topic.
But she still can't accept the word "bad", when she do something not corectly, she is angry that I am not satisfied. We need to work on this. She need to understand that I have a right to express my opinion, and she should accept this.
Horses show us how they think about our behaviour. For example, when we tell them that something they did was "wrong" and they think it's unfair, they get angry and thereby they tell us that they don't accept that we don't accept their behaviour.
So if I want my horse not to tell me that he doesn't accept my behaviour then I have to behave in an appropriate way. The statement "You're doing it wrong" is a very strong expression that can make the other one feel sad or angry. That is why I try not to tell someone that what he does is wrong. Instead I search for statements that help to improve what the other one is doing, for example "You can try this" or better "Let us try this".
Most of the time (probably always) horses have good reason for doing what they do. If I give them better reasons to behave in another way I don't have to tell them "No" because they don't want to do what they had good reasons before. The reasons are exchanged by other reasons.