How can we tell the difference between our own personal feelings and what we pick up from other people? Why is it helpful to be curious?
We are sentient beings and as such we have our own feelings and we are also aware of the feelings of other people. When we get to a point where our feelings are too uncomfortable to bear, we often project them onto others. This can cause conflict in our relationships. So, what can we do instead?
Equine Facilitated Learning can help us become aware of what feelings are ours (whether we are conscious of them or not), what we might be picking from others and what might be shared. For example, we may believe that a horse looks sad, whilst not honouring our own sadness, and yet later in the session admit to our own unacknowledged sadness. Or we might believe that if a horse walks away from us he’s being independent or a ‘loner’ rather than noticing our own needs for connection. Alternatively, a noise might make both the horse and us become alert as we share feelings of vulnerability or curiosity.
One of the questions I continually asked throughout my Equine Facilitated Learning training was ‘What’s mine, what’s Jack’s?’ When I became clear about my own feelings it was easier to sense when I was picking up feelings from my horse Jack. This allowed me to take responsibility for myself and to show compassion to him when I needed to, rather than projecting my own unwanted feelings onto him.
One of the quickest ways to experience emotional well-being is to listen to yourself first.
So how can you do that?
Listen to your body and take time to be with yourself and notice your own feelings throughout each day. This is commonly called mindfulness – a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations.
Awareness is the first step to any change and it can be the turning point from feeling stressed and overwhelmed to experiencing clarity, peace and happiness.
It’s also true that we live in a shared energy field and it’s impossible to separate ourselves from another. So, it’s important to know that some of our feelings are caused through experiencing affect contagion, empathy, emotional resonance, projection, or transference. The more we can become aware of the relationship between ourselves and others the more able we are to take responsibility for our own emotional wellbeing and happiness and enjoy more harmonious relationships with others.
The world we live in today has become so busy with media, telephones, social media etc that it’s easy to disconnect from our feelings and become absorbed in the dramas of others and of the wider world. We can lose focus and our sense of purpose and direction. We might be stressed, stuck, confused or overwhelmed. These are all signs that it’s time to STOP, take time out, self-reflect and give yourself an opportunity to reconnect with your own personal feelings and enjoy more fulfilling relationships.
Some tips to help you understand your feelings so that you can experience more calm and enjoy more harmonious relationships.
Take 10 minutes daily and sit still and simply notice – your breathing, thoughts, feelings and body sensations and the flow between them all.
If you are in company and ‘can’t think straight’ take yourself away from others, go outside, into the garden, away from the group, just for a few minutes and reconnect to yourself, so that your body can calm down and you can feel your own feelings and then differentiate between what’s yours and what you are picking up from others.
Have a retreat – sometimes it’s a good idea to get away for a few days. Recently I went away and stayed in a lovely warm, cosy cottage. I spent time with horses, walked in the woods and visited the beach. I enjoyed beautiful scenery, good food and clean country air. I meditated, journalled and read some inspiring books – and loved ‘being’ in nature. I realised that what they say in the books is true, that peace (that very special elixir which we chase with thoughts like ‘I’ll be happy when ………’) is there all the time! When we give ourselves a chance to stop, listen, feel, accept, and release our feelings and emotions we are left with our underlying and innate sense of peace, love and joy.
Get support. My 3-day Connect workshop is an opportunity to have a guided experience of reconnecting to yourself. You learn to listen to your own feelings and body sensations and notice how they are impacted by being in the presence of horses.
You become aware of limiting thoughts and beliefs and have a chance to explore and challenge them through reflective experiences with the horses.
You have time to reflect, meditate, and journal in a very safe, sacred, and nurturing environment, surrounded by the healing energy of the horses.
You explore where you end and the other begins and the interconnection between you, the horses, the environment, and your fellow participants.
If you are interested to find out how my coaching and workshops can help you differentiate between your own personal feelings and those you are picking up from others, so that you can enjoy more harmonious relationships, then do get in touch.