How often do we hear a negative command placed in front of an emotion such as “Don’t worry,” “Don’t stress,” “Don’t get angry,” or the always wonderful to hear, “Don’t be sad”? The truth is that for people who are struggling with an emotional response, the worst thing they can be told is not to feel it.
And yet, people often admonish their own emotions, just as much as those around them may. Humans have a unique way of carrying messages about how they should and should not feel, think and behave, all based on what someone else told them. When this happens consistently and frequently enough, a person can actually begin to have trouble identifying just what they do feel — although they may be able to describe what they “should” feel.
There can be many reasons for this. Perhaps the felt emotion is not considered socially acceptable. Or maybe the person fears the judgment of others for thinking or feeling certain things. Even worse, maybe there is the worry about retribution against expressed feelings. Whatever the reason may be, repression of emotion can lead to an entire host of problems.
With today’s current obsession with weight loss, people have been known to try quite an amazing array of different ways to thin down. From sweatsuits in summertime to juice diets and everything in between, we attack the “problem” mercilessly.
So it’s no surprise then that recently I received an email asking if equine therapy can be helpful for weight loss.
My first question was, “Do you know what the food represents for you?”
The answer, “I know I am an emotional eater, so I must eat for emotional reasons.”
With the popularity of the books and movies “Seabiscuit” and “Secretariat,” we know the America loves horse racing. Something about witnessing the power, speed and heart of a magnificent Thoroughbred thundering down the track can really captivate a human heart.
And certainly the story of a horse that “comes from behind” to beat his favored opponent just strides before the wire, uplifts us all in a way that is difficult to describe.
Well, we may have one such horse right now. I’ll Have Another, the plain chestnut colt trained by Doug O’Neill, was not favored to win the Kentucky Derby. In fact, nobody even thought he’d place. And yet, he came out of the blue to commandingly run down the favorite, Bodemeister, in what many would later call a fluke.
More people than ever before are “connected.” Smart phones, iPads, laptops and video games seem the normal things to turn to when forced to wait for anything these days, even if the wait is only 3 minutes.
These connection devices have easily infested almost every area of our lives and people — so much so that to ask someone to put down the phone, shut off the computer or iPad, or disconnect the earbuds from their ears is like asking them to stop breathing. Most people will complain that without their device, they don’t feel “connected.”
However, nothing could be farther from the truth.
As equine therapy has gained popularity, we have experienced a surge of new books, certification programs, training manuals and even movies depicting different equine therapy and the many benefits it can offer. Along with this movement, studies have been conducted on the efficacy of equine therapy, many of which have become the basis for the written material.
Recently, a new book was written by Anita Shkedi, who, in 1985, founded Therapeutic Riding in Israel. Ms. Shkedi also holds a postgraduate diploma in Health Visiting, a British State Registered Nurse diploma, and a Therapeutic Riding Certificate. Additionally, she is the founding director of INTRA-I.
Shkedi’s book incorporates both her experience as founder of a therapeutic riding center in Israel, as well as her clinical knowledge of the ways in which the brain is influenced by equine therapy.
A few days ago, I blogged about the importance of authenticity in assuring a happy and fulfilling life, and also noted that Neil Pasricha, the author of “the Book of Awesome,” and the 1000 Awesome Things blog, calls authenticity one of the three parts of awesome.
I additionally offered an authenticity challenge to my readers: be authentic at least once in the coming weeks.
However, I also put myself to the same challenge and related that I would work with my horse, Celine, in an equine therapy session to help clarify for me just how I was feeling.
So here are the results of that session:
On the heels of Neil Pasricha’s overwhelmingly successful blog, 1000 Awesome Things and subsequent book, “The Book of Awesome,” many people are beginning to wonder just what comprises awesome. Luckily, in a recent TED talk, Pasricha breaks down this overarching concept into three simple things: Attitude, Awareness and Authenticity.
So, being that a hallmark of equine therapy is learning the capacity to be authentic, I thought now would be an appropriate time to issue an authenticity challenge. That’s right, this week, I challenge you, the reader, to be authentic at least one time. And I mean fully authentic.
Equine therapy has certainly been popular for autism, developmental disorders and now veterans with PTSD, but for clinical therapists, the bulk of cases have to do with relationships. The question then becomes, can equine therapy help improve relationships?
The answer, is yes, and here are three ways: