Overwhelm, Perfection and Self Sabotage

  • 2 min read

Bay horse galloping in grass showjumping event horse

Today I feel overwhelmed.  I woke up that way.  Work, the child, horses, life.  I don’t think today is any different than yesterday, except that I have a show jump lesson today at 2:45.  Show jumping lessons give me anxiety and I start to walk down the path of self-sabotage. 

What self-sabotage looks like

I don’t think of myself as someone who self-sabotages, but this meme and the current feeling in the pit of my stomach tell the truth.  I self-sabotage by refusing to play if I can’t be perfect.

There is really no danger of expecting perfection on cross country.  It is the rare day when everything goes as planned.  Cross country schooling is probably more about learning to how to deal with imperfection than hoping to be perfect.  I don’t know why I don’t get wound up about dressage perfection, lots of people do.  Maybe because there is always something to improve.  Repetition is the nature of the thing and good is on a sliding scale.  Maybe it is because a mistake in dressage is not as physically jarring as a mistake in front of a fence. 

BUT OH, SHOW JUMPING!  So many ways to let yourself and your horse down in show jumping.  Bad distance, getting left, getting ahead, stops, run-outs, missed changes, bad position, the list goes on.  Not to mention “green horse”, even if you give the absolute perfect ride it can still go to hell.

Right now, I am sitting at my desk thinking about letting myself off the hook by asking Jon to ride Grail.  “I’d like to just watch Landry ride DJ and take some video,” I tell myself.  “Grail would benefit from a ride by Jon”, of course that’s true.  “I have a lot of work to get done.”  This one is total BS because I am going to be at the farm, not at my desk, regardless, but my self-talk just keeps throwing it out there.  Why does my brain do this?  I know that I avoid lessons sometimes.  Is it this desire for perfection or a fear of failure, are they two sides of the same coin?  Where does the pressure come from?

Next week Landry and I are scheduled to participate in a Noelle Floyd Masterclass with Dr. Jenny Susser on dealing with pressure.  Dr. Susser is an experienced Clinical Sport & Performance Psychologist with a demonstrated history of working in the professional training & coaching industry and high-performance sport individuals and teams.  She provided individual and team Sport Psychology services to the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team at the Olympic Selection Trials and Olympic Games, London, 2012.  We are really looking forward to this amazing opportunity.

Now I am doing a little bit of internet searching to see if I can find an exercise, thought experiment or motivational something or other to keep me from calling Jon.

I’ll let you know how it goes, but now that I have posted this, I probably have to put my butt in the tack.  I am guessing I might have to cry to get Jon to let me off the hook.


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