#55 Practice Being Pleased

Jul 28, 2022

Back in 2016, I hosted a clinic with Carol Coppinger, 6* Parelli Instructor, in Olympia, Washington. I had never seen her teach but had had a wonderful conversation with her when we were both at the Parelli ranch in Pagosa Springs, Colorado and I asked her if she'd be willing to come and teach in my area.

After a few minutes of watching her in action, I quickly saw why she was the highest rated Parelli instructor. Her horsemanship was inspiring, but what stood out even more to me was her ability to teach. Her skill with storytelling to engage the audience while also giving clear instructions and individual coaching to the 12 people and horses in the arena caused my jaw to drop on several occasions. I was awed. 

One of the things she shared, that has stuck with me and that I've practiced a bunch in my horsemanship - wasn't a technique or pattern- but the concept of being pleased and putting time into practicing it. 

Most of us have spent plenty of time feeling frustrated, confused, overwhelmed, distracted, etc when it comes to our horses- those things can come easily when it comes to learning new things (which, if you're progressing, you're doing). Being pleased with ourselves and our horses often doesn't come along quite as often, even though there are as many things to feel pleased about as there are to feel the negative feelings (if not more). 

Carol went a step further than simply sharing the importance of being pleased.

She asked everyone in the arena and audience to take a moment to feel disappointment- where do you feel it? What does your body do? A heaviness in your chest, folding of your shoulders, clenching of your hands...

Then feel pleased- how is it different? Where do you feel it? Straightening of your shoulders, a lightness in your chest, a smile forming...

If you aren't already trying it as you're reading this- give it a try- take a few seconds, close your eyes if that's helpful and practice feeling disappointment. Notice what happens in your body. Then practice feeling pleased.

Isn't it interesting how you have the ability to practice a feeling that can transform how you feel at any moment? But... as Carol pointed out, this takes practice. The negative feelings often come much easier because we've put in a lot of time practicing them. If we can practice feeling pleased each day, or moments throughout the day it will start to come easier and easier. Our brains will start to look for the things to feel pleased with- they're there- we often just don't see them because we're on the lookout for the problems. 

Take a minute to write down 10 things that you're pleased with when it comes to you and your horse- it might be a super challenging exercise OR you might fly through the list.

Then choose a time each day- (a success tip for building a new habit is to pair it with something you already do everyday: feeding your horse, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, etc) to practice being pleased for 30 seconds (you can do it for longer- but 30 seconds will make a difference), reread your list or think of something else that you feel pleased with- feel the feeling. 

I'm grateful to Carol for sharing this simple (but not easy) concept. It changed my horsemanship, and like most shifts in my horsemanship- it also changed my life. 

Give it a try and I'd love to hear how it goes.

I'm feeling pleased that you made it this far and I'm grateful you're a part of this adventure 💕

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