Horsey Therapist

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What makes us tick?

I am tempted right now to talk emotionally about other people and ask, what makes people tick? I'm upset. I'm angry. I'm feeling helpless. I want to blame someone. I want to save someone else.

The someone I want to save is a horse I know. The ones I want to blame are those who were reportedly handling him out of anger using extreme force in their attempts to make him do something that scares him.

These folks don't fully understand what fear does to a horse. I'd venture that they don't fullly understand what fear does to themselves. So it goes and we humans act out and pass along our unconsciousness. It's been happening for generations. I heard it was happening today with a horse I know and love -- a sweet horse, an attentive horse, a misunderstood horse.

Who may now be labelled a problem horse and a dangerous horse, because he reared and struck out in self defense. Sometimes we fail to see that what someone else does is merely in response to something we did.

In my own way, I've been there, done that. And I have cried in shame and regret for things I've done to others. I cry now as my heart aches for this horse who was frightened and confused by his handling.

My feelings of helplessness are compounded by the reality that I cannot save all horses from the roughness people can offer. In fact, there is little I can do beyond taking care of my expressions in order to send a positive or at worst, a neutral rippling effect out to other beings I encounter.

It is not possible for me to send the ripplings I want to send when I'm thinking about blaming someone. I must find a way to make sense of what happened, even if really truly, behaviors like that don't make sense. But to step back and deduce a sensible story about the perpetrating people does bring some compassion back to the forefront of my heart and mind.

It taps the energy of personal resources to tune in with empathy to people who are hurting others. Those people who hurt others, are hurting inside themselves. Of this I am certain. But offering them anything other than understanding will only make their defenses stronger. Nobody wants to hurt others, not in their deepest core places. I firmly believe this. But I also firmly believe that we are all, to some degree or other, operating externally to our core selves, and operating in ways that we believe -- often unconsciously -- will ensure our survival.

We have defenses for a reason. They were developed for self preservation. Unfortunately, they don't come with an expiration date. How handy if they simply ceased to guard our inner selves once we reached adulthood! Although that would presume that with chronological aging come maturation of being. Another questionable assumption.

Instead of guaranteed maturity, what I have seen is that a person comes to a point of distress which becomes a catalyst propelling that person into a period of unplanned openness, during which some new and better influences are allowed to alter the flow of that person's choices and life expressions. I have a hunch that some people change and grow without pain as a motivator, but suspect that those people were nurtured in ways that allowed their core being to flourish instead of cringe and hide.

Thank goodness change is possible.

Feeling safe is very important. Safe on many levels. Yesterday evening I found myself worrying about my safety while RNB was driving us to a dance. I conjured up good reasons to distrust his driving judgment, and then I wondered why I was thinking that way. I suddenly recalled my time with Sofia in the afternoon, particularly how some of my actions had worried her. I wondered if I had come away from our time together feeling what she had been feeling: uncertain and mistrusting of what I was doing. And then had carried that with me unknowingly into the evening.

It made a huge difference to how I was feeling about RNB as I realized the connection, and I let go of my worries and instead thought more about how Sofia might have been feeling. And of course, wondered what was going on inside me that permitted me to act in a way that worried her to the extent it did. It's like a place inside of me disappears -- the place where I'm connected 100% empathically with Sofia. And when that connection is hidden, unrecognized, unfelt, essentially missing in action, a person can do things that contradict one's best intentions.

Mind you, I didn't do anything horrid to her on the scale of things. What I did was dance around and jump up and down and throw my arms around, while she was loose in the arena. We were about fifty feet apart from each other, and my exaggerated dancing disturbed her and sent her kicking out and running around, head up, eyes bugged, nostrils flared! I hadn't wanted it to worry her like that! I had been wondering how could I desensitize her a little so should I ever trip and stumble, she wouldn't leave the county.

Could I have done it in smaller increments getting larger with my arms and movement? Sure. But it didn't occur to me in the moment. How much did this affect her? I guess I'll find out next time I take her to the arena and experiment with dancing around. I do know she is quicker to bring her life up with me -- she showed me that before I started my frightful dancing -- but I do believe I overdid it.

But why? Why?!

I keep finding out things about myself, so I suspect I'll be finding an answer soon enough.


At 22 January, 2007 06:44, Blogger fourwinds said...

"These folks don't fully understand what fear does to a horse."

It's what fear does to us. Fear creates aggression and anger in humans. (Because we are not programmed to run first?)


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