Emotional Stuckness

This article has much in it that is applicable to people in so many different aspects of life. EH and EMIt is a story told by Jim Overstreet about his mentor and famous American horseman Tom Dorrance.  In it Jim describes a lesson he learned about getting something done and encountering resistance – resistance that he created unknowingly.

One of many life lessons I have learned at the hands of a horse was about resistance – or emotional ‘stuckness’ – at the time I was in the saddle and I was trying to get something done (although I don’t remember now what that was). When I had the insight it was such a powerful experience that it has stayed with me for years and positively affected my behaviour and performance in many ways. This is the value of insight – it has the ability to change the brain and build new neuro-pathways that make the lesson stick.

The hallmark of emotional stuckness, this typically human behaviour, is getting unconsciously attached to an outcome (an idea) instead of staying in the moment and living with ‘what is’ as it shifts from second to second. Shifting out of that attachment and reconnecting to our awareness of the present and becoming aware of our feelings while being stuck makes us change almost like magic and that change affects everything around us. Read the story and see if you can relate to an experience in your life where you were able to move from problem to solution, like magic, by shifting your awareness.

“A few years ago, Tom helped me teach a young stud to be a gentleman so that I could ride him in public places. In addition to the other problems, the horse always resisted slightly when I bridled him. I had to use my thumb to pry his mouth open enough to slip the snaffle between his teeth. Tom no doubt noticed this problem the first evening, but never mentioned it until the third morning when he suggested that we work on the bitting problem.

We confined the horse in a narrow space. Tom directed me through a series of exercises to encourage him to open his mouth at my suggestion. I held the horse’s head in my arms and between my arms and my body. Sometimes when he resisted more vigorously, I had to hang on real hard. When he became agitated, I tried to calm him by petting softly. During one of the episodes when I was petting, Tom said, “Your hands are too hard.”  I had been stroking him very lightly and replied, “I’m touching him a soft as I can.”

Tom looked at me and, I suspect, struggled to keep from exhibiting frustration, then after a few seconds he tapped his chest with the ends of his curled fingers, and said very quietly, “It comes from the heart.” He spoke in a lower voice than he had before and conveyed strong emotion. It was a strangely intimate moment—almost embarrassingly so. It was as if I had forced him to open his soul to me so that I could see something so fundamentally important that I should have known it already.

I stopped and for a few seconds I thought about the horse and how much I liked him. When my intentions became good, my hands changed—they softened. Although I had been touching the horse very lightly, my fingers had been rigid—it had been as if I had been trying to comfort Buddy by touching him lightly with a board. When the tension went out of my fingers, my touch became both light and soft. And, I have no doubt that my shoulders and back softened too. My horse certainly did. In a few minutes he took the bit perfectly.
Because the horse had struggled hard enough to approach the limits of my ability to hang on, I’d had to tighten up and go into a competitive mode. For a moment, it might have been appropriate, but when the horse was ready to quit fighting, I stayed stuck in what had become an unsuitable emotional state.” (Retrieved from http://eclectic-horseman.com/content/view/82/33/)