You know in the typical cop show when the suspects are separated before they can compare their stories? The reason they do that (other than it makes good drama) is that any individual story is only a version of the truth. I can hear your eyes rolling, but think about it. If you have a story that’s based in the past, like, “I’m a control freak; I have been since I was a kid. You should have seen how I organized my CDs alphabetically and my clothes by color in my closet!” This may or may not be based on facts—okay it is, and it’s me.
I had to impose order in my things, because my childhood was so unpredictable, with two drama- crazed parents using me as the shuttlecock in their game of emotional badminton. This ordering of things kept me calm.
However, is that story really true anymore? Do I NEED to control my things to feel calm? Nope. In fact, that story makes me feel suffocated and rigid. I can’t tap into my creative side, because my control freak doesn’t see color.
So, I can change my story to reflect what’s happening here and now to be a better version of myself.
This played out in real time at an equus retreat I attended at the stunning Blue Star Ranch in Cashiers, NC last weekend (if you’re curious about an equus retreat, it’s playing with horses as a way of seeing the effect of your energy on other creatures, like people). I came into the retreat with a story that I had to be the Expert, since I was an equestrian for all of my teenage years. I lived that story last year, and the horses wanted nothing to do with that energy.
As we did an intention setting exercise the concepts that kept popping into my head were, “Wait and see; stay in gentle energy.”
When I focused on that story, my leadership of the horse was effortless.
He did everything I asked him to do. It was breathtaking to steer a huge animal with just your energy...no talking, just feeling. It was going so well, that I got a little cocky. I slipped back into expert/control mode, and the horse lost his mind. Running and bucking in a way that brought a halt to our session for safety reasons. He couldn’t get away from that brittle energy fast enough.
So, the next day, I set my intention to be gentle again. This time there were four of us in the ring for a herding session. The object is to formulate an “obstacle course” for your horse and then steer him through the course.
The entire session is wordless; you can’t talk to each other or to the horse.
I was willing to let the others lead, as my expert was on vacation. Then we entered the ring, and my three companions turned to me for guidance—because I was the expert! Okie dokie, then. After I silenced the little Alanis Morissette in my head, trilling about irony, I proceeded to lead in a way I’ve never led before, with gentle energy.
It was inexplicably wonderful.
The humans communicated perfectly, without words, and the horse did everything weintended, because we were so clear.
I now have a touchstone feeling to return to when I think about how I want to lead in the future. It felt like my body was filled with light, and my heart was full. I can lead like this without draining my energy, and that’s something I never thought would happen. Mind. Blown!
This is the power of being willing to tell yourself a new story, and then proceeding to make choices which make that story true. Now, when that “expert in control” story comes up, I can choose to lead with gentle energy instead, because I know it works so much better.
What stories are you carrying around in your head? Do they energize you or exhaust you? It’s your choice to write the story of your life that portrays you as the hero or the victim.
If you need help with that, or you want to play mind meld with a horse at Blue Star Ranch at my Mother/Daughter retreat next summer, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.