Horse sense or the lessons from the horses:
How can we get through our lives and the current pandemic without fear and with more calmness and forgiveness?
Horse sense is a word used to describe a robust form of common sense, the ability to make good judgements.
It can also be used as a different word for "intuition" or a "sixth sense".
It is believed that the word originated from the wild west days, when cowboys displayed a very practical common sense.
Usually men of few words, these guys were certainly not up to nonsense talking.
Through spending many lonely days and nights alongside their horses, they developed the so called "horse sense" which is now a common word used worldwide.
So how can we benefit from this wisdom in the current situation, where the world is at a standstill and everything is so unexpectedly different from how we imaged the year 2020 to be?
I know a lot of these tips are easier said than done!
However, I also believe that a little degree of horse sense (in the literal sense!) can truly benefit our mental and physical wellbeing in these tough days.
As prey animals, horse do know quite a bit about fear.
All their instincts are constantly alert to warn them of danger so they can make a rapid move or flee when they get into a risky situation.
However, if they would be spending every single moment of their lives worrying about the "what if"s that may or may not happen, they would never be able to sleep or relax and would very soon die of stress related syndromes.
Horses have therefore learnt to live with fear.
When there is no imminent danger, they relax, nurture their bodies by eating and drinking and save energy for the moment they really need it.
Yes, we as humans are more evolved and can think ahead and plan differently.
We can wear masks and gloves and practice social distancing because we know there is a dangerous virus around and we might catch it, and we have understood the implications not just on ourselves but on the whole humanity and as responsible global citizens should all cooperate and take precautionary measures.
However, what is constant worry about the future, and all the subsequent stress doing to our bodies?
Humans are great thinkers, but we are also great at making up stories in our heads.
Even though right now we might be absolutely fine, sitting at home with enough food, toilet paper and Netflix, there is a constant carousel of stories going around in our head:
"What are the implications of the economy going down?
What if I loose my job?
What if I gain too much weight?
What if I my child lacks behind because I am not the perfect teacher for homeschooling?"
There are thousands of "What if's" we make up in our mind over and over again, instead of just allowing ourselves to live in the moment and worry when things really do turn bad.
And that is exactly what this pandemic is proving to us.
There is actually quite a lot we cannot control.
If you have been working with horses before you know this already - there is just no way you can ever really control an animal that is 10 times stronger than you, no matter how sophisticated your methods are - and in the equestrian sports, humans have tried everything from pain devices to psychological abuse to befriending the animal.
Horses are generally very forgiving animals and will try their best to cooperate with us no matter how we treat them - but there is no such thing as total control.
The best and safest way to work with horses is to go with the flow, work on what they have to offer, and try and see the world from their perspective rather than ours.
By gaining a wider view and more understanding, we can become more tolerant, and in turn take better decisions.
Also, we have to understand that it is not personal - and getting offended is no help at all when working with a horse.
The same goes when we apply this horse sense to the current situation - we cannot control the virus, and it is nothing personal.
The horse, nor the virus care about your nationality, your gender, your believes or your job title.
There is no point to get angry or upset - screaming your lungs out and raging in fury might alleviate you for a bit, but will not change the situation.
We have to learn to live with not knowing what is happening tomorrow - next week - next year - and nevertheless remain calm and centered and in balance if we want to achieve anything useful.
Bad things happen.
Terrible things happen.
Yet, it is extremely helpful if you can manage to take a step back and find a reason behind everything that is happening. Usually, every mistake that happens also brings about a learning, every tragedy is followed by disruption and change.
If you have a sense of coherence as per the concept of Aaron Antonovsky, meaning you can see the world as something that is manageable, understandable, and meaningful, not only will you feel less stressed, you will also be healthier.
There are studies showing that there is a positive correlation between sense of coherence, self-efficacy, and psychological well-being.
Or in other words:
If we can trust that everything happens in our lives for a reason, to bring us one step further and to develop ourselves, even if we don't understand it yet, we can be more at peace with what happens to us.
Do you think these tips are realistic?
How are you keeping sane during this time?
Let me know your ideas and comments below!
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