Getting back on the horse is a concept and principle I’ve used to great effect during my entire personal development journey and furthermore throughout my life.
The metaphorical “horse” is basically a state of being where we’re “in-the-flow;” being close as possible to the best version of ourselves and doing all the necessary things that make our lives amazing.
When we are “on-the-horse,” we’re feeling inspired, fulfilled, focused, and energized. We’re effortlessly implementing all the habits that have us feeling like we’re utilizing our potential and making the most of our time. When we’re “off-the-horse” we feel lethargic, unmotivated, uninspired, and generally not in touch with our natural state of flow. If we note our behaviours during this time, our general malaise stems from basically NOT implementing all those little habits that bring us progress, meaning and fulfillment in life.
As you can see, being on the horse is MUCH more preferable and enjoyable than the alternative.
Our effectiveness, happiness, and general presence in the world is much greater when we’re practising all of our successful habits in tandem. If being on the horse is the place where we achieve our best results, then it stands that we ought to do all we can to find a way to remain on it as much as possible.
Of course life has its ups and downs and we’re not always going to be riding high – being at our peak for extended periods can become exhausting.
We convince ourselves that the horse needs rest as much as we do; after all, maintaining focus and running at full sprint for long periods is hard work in a world full of inconsistencies. But you’d be surprised; your horse is in fact a thoroughbred, it can handle everything you throw at it.
From hereon I’ll be using both “on-the-horse” to represent the act of being in-the-flow, synonymously with “the-horse” itself to represent the same idea.
Horse riding is a skill which must be practised. With consistent training (practising getting back up after each fall) we can rebalance our lives with less of a startled jump between the unhealthy ways (times off the horse) and the healthy ways (when riding high.) Better yet, once we have the realization that we are all in fact naturally gifted horse riders and that peak performance is actually our natural state-of-being, we begin to develop a deep belief in ourselves.
As this belief grows, our ability to deal with the issues that inevitably face us in our day to day lives, as well as the likelihood of us falling off (or wanting to get off) in the first place diminishes.
Keep in mind that horse doesn’t always have to be galloping at full pace, you can canter, trot, even take a pause for a drink at times. Sometimes you might outright decide to get off and walk. Just remember our horse is endlessly loyal, it will always be by our side, awaiting us to mount it at any time.
If you have decided to go walkabout – jumping off the horse at times will be required and is indeed encouraged for the burgeoning experience that change can have in your life. Just remember that being on the horse (your reliable steed of habitual behaviour) will always be an available mindset to do your most effective work from… IF you create a practical outline for yourself and stick to it. So write down your most productive habits and processes to begin as a baseline which you can recognize as your most effective state.
Whether you are looking to crack the whip on a specific upcoming task, or want to simply have a less bumpy ride through life; anyone who enjoys and values being productive, developing mindfulness, and being a beneficial presence in the world will benefit in consolidating a routine/set of habits.
Some of the benefits of being on the horse include :
If life is SO much easier being on the horse rather than off it, why do we choose to jump off in the first place?
There are countless reasons that we can find as to why we may choose to get off, jump off, or abandon our horse altogether.
“It’s too hard” to keep up that momentum
“It’s too tiring” to ride for long periods
“It’s too scary” to ride so swiftly through all this unknown terrain
or simply “I can’t deal with this fast pace!”
We’ve all heard ourselves using one of the above excuses as to why we cannot do and be the things we know make us profit most from our time and energy.
All these excuses really boil down to one thing: FEAR.
We’re afraid of our awesomeness, and afraid of the responsibility that will come if we continue riding like the wind; overtaking others on the way.
Do you have these recurring thoughts that seem to only stifle your progress?
“What will my friends, family and associates think of me?”
“Who am I to be so awesome!?”
“Oh shit! I’m growing, this is all new! How can I keep up this level of effectiveness?”
These are all naturally stemming from our fear of the unknown.
So what do we find ourselves commonly doing when these questions arise?
We freak out, jump off or even worse fall off the horse. We need to remember, our horse is a fierce, magical, mystical beast of immense beauty, loyalty, and courage that will get us through whatever we encounter. Have unshakable faith in your horse and its abilities to get you through, and it will, every time!
Okay, it’s all well and good reading an article about this mythical bloody horse, how important it is to define and why we may fall off it, but by now you’re probably wondering “How the heck do I get back on it once I’m off?” or if you’re anything like me, “how can I ensure I don’t fall off in the first place and simply maintain riding?”
Firstly, it’s important to be able to recognize when you’ve fallen off.
Sometimes weeks, even months can go past before we even realize we’re no longer riding our trusty steed; it happens so sneakily, and unconsciously. We hardly ever consciously choose to get off the horse. Secondly – once we’ve realized we’ve dismounted – we need to know how to get back on!
Following are some tips to help you recognize when you’re in danger of slipping, so you can avoid falling off altogether. These tips will help you increase your riding skills or ensure you stay firmly in the saddle (for those advanced riders who hardly ever fall off but want to challenge themselves and evolve even further.)
So, the first question we need to ask is:
“How do we know we’ve fallen off the horse in the first place?”
Six of the early warning signs we’ve fallen off the horse are:
Recognizing any of the above is the beginning of getting back on track. Awareness is half the trick, the ego wants us to stay small but the soul wants us to grow – this in turn creates the conflict which the following tips will address.
Becoming aware of our actions, thoughts and feelings opens the door to effectively controlling our results.
So now that we’ve recognized we’re off the horse here are:
7 tips for getting back on the horse and staying there with consistent balance
1 – Mindfulness & Journaling: Mindfulness practices, particularly meditation, will bring you back into the present moment and give you full access to the here and now which is where all our personal power stems from.
It helps us become more aware of our feelings, thoughts and our sense of knowing what needs to be done. Be careful not to use meditation as an escape from your problems, but as a tool to bring awareness to them so that you can find a solution.
Journaling will help you by getting your thoughts out of your head, allowing you to process them more clearly and succinctly. I’ve had experiences in my life where the simple act of writing down what I’m going through has made me realize that I’m stressing out over nothing. Things in your head seem more incomprehensible than when written down on paper.
Being more mindful will allow you more access to your most powerful state and utilize the power of the present moment.
2 – Ask for Help: Those around us: friends, family, a co-worker, a spouse or anyone else we trust can be a great sounding board for us to gain clarity, confidence and help us develop a plan to get back on the horse.
When we’re off the horse, we’ve simply forgotten to implement the habits which make our life work smoothly. Whether or not they give us ‘the answer’ or ‘sound advice’ is not the point here, as simply talking about our situation to someone whom we respect and trust will bring light to the patterns we’re operating in.
Naming our issues gives us power over them; speaking to someone else about the issue forces you to precisely articulate it, setting you well on the way to fully reclaiming your power.
Another bonus of speaking to others is that when we’re off the horse, we can easily get down on ourselves and forget all our positive and beneficial traits. Often talking to someone who cares about you will be a sufficient reminder of your inherent skills and innate ability to actively control your life.
3 – Do some Clearing Work: Doing some bodywork: energetic work, qigong, acupuncture, kinesiology, spiral, massage, sauna etc will help move stuff around, get you out of your head, into your body and clear up any blockages within you.
Many a time when I’ve been off the horse, I’ll get a massage, do a set of qigong, or get some acupuncture. Respecting the power of positive physicality in my life alone sets me on track to riding high once again.
If you don’t already, make a list of some amazing practitioners, teachers, and therapists in your area whom you can call upon when you’re not feeling your best and book an appointment! Better yet, schedule a session with one or two of these people every week, prevention is infinitely better than cure after all.
4 – Turn Into and Embrace the Fear: Confusion, anxiety and fear of success/failure are all common causes for choosing (consciously or unconsciously) to get off the horse. Basically you’re afraid of everything that continuing to ride the horse will entail. It’s common knowledge that running away from, suppressing and choosing not to deal with our fears is NOT the way forward.
The ONLY way to overcome fear is through acceptance of the reality as it is – “ok I’m scared/stuck/overwhelmed/terrified/anxious” and then choosing to move on regardless.
When I imagine myself embracing my fears, it perpetuates a “bring it on!” attitude, in which I say “okay fear, I see you. Let’s dance!”
I grab it by the hand and we dance together – I may stumble, fall, turn red or even hurt myself in the process but I sure as hell learn quickly about my own nature of self defiance that’s been holding me back. It also builds in me a state of courage and fearlessness – which is a prerequisite for galloping at high speeds through unfamiliar and new terrain, aka anything that lies beyond your edge.
5 – Simplifying/Decluttering: Being overwhelmed seems to be a common theme as to why we get off the horse.
Simplifying your life, letting go of commitments you’ve made and even clearing out your workspace or home by throwing out any “baggage” that is clouding your space will give you more room to be your best self. As is common amongst high-achievers, we can tend to take on way too much, and we also know that we can (and will) handle all that we take on.
“I’ve done it before, and will quite easily do it again!” we tell ourselves.
Soon enough, you’re trying to tend to 5 or 6 different ranches and simply don’t have enough time in the day or week to keep all your projects afloat; as you begin to sink, unhealthy habits start to form again.
Taking off all your excess riding gear and going bareback will have you feeling lighter, and more prepared for the next wild ride.
6 – Write a Highest Priority List: Writing out the exact tasks that you’re going to accomplish for the day, prioritizing them from most important to least important, then getting started immediately with a top down approach is the surest way of using your time most effectively.
Once again, getting things out of your head and written down will ensure you have space to be in your most effective state; leading you to take the required actions for success.
Eliminate all tasks on the list that don’t take you closer to the goal you’re working towards and all the ones that have little impact in your life. The key to this is as soon as you’ve written the list, START IMMEDIATELY on your highest priority task.
7 – Get over it: This one is my personal favourite.
Simply realizing that you’re off the horse and no longer being the best version of yourself, then deciding “Screw this!” I’ve been off the horse long enough, it’s time to get back on, jumping back on and riding onward.
At the end of the day, this is the ultimate decision we must make (that we’re ready to change) regardless of how many of the tips listed we choose to employ.
So a quick summary.
Being on the horse/the horse means being in the zone, in a state of full effectiveness and employing all the right mindsets, beliefs attitudes and habits that ensure we’re winning at life.
We rarely consciously choose to give up on practicing those habits which give us most benefit, we usually find ourselves in a rut, or feeling down due to being overwhelmed. Recognizing when we are not keeping up our set of positive habits is the key: by being mindful and practicing self awareness, we can spot the six early warning signs of being off the horse.
Once the light of consciousness has been shone upon the issue and you’ve realized you’re off horse, you can then utilize any of the seven tips to help you get back on track and into a powerful state of effectiveness.
Take time to develop what being on the horse means in your own life. The following are some suggested questions to take away and answer; they will assist in defining what ‘being on the horse’ means to you and help you cement you best habits into a daily practice.
What does being on the horse means for you? What are the habits you follow daily that make your life flow smoothly? What does your life look like when you fell naturally at our peak? What’s your game plan for getting back on the horse once I’ve realized I’m off it?
– Zulu Flow Zion