This week I fell off the horse. And it was a huge horse. You see, for the first time I had hit my wellness stride; my skin was glowy, my eyes clear and my weight was starting to get back to some sort of pre-baby normality. I felt motivated and happy and hadn’t felt the choke of a panic attack in a long while. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt this good. Then… THUD.
I moved to a new home, did renovations on the old one, started my studies with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and experienced our first month as a single income family. All this with a nearly-mobile six month old and two disgruntled dogs. I lived off crap quick ‘food’, let my exercise and self-love routine slip and got overtired and overstressed.
Within two weeks I felt that all my hard work – my life-changing life changes – had been undone.
So while I was wallowing in my melancholy I stumbled upon an old photo of my 11 year old self sitting atop my gorgeous dappled grey pony, Trigger. I looked confident and in control – which confused the hell out of me because Trigger (as the name suggests) was a damn psychopath that had tried to end me many times that year.
I wondered how it was that I looked so comfortable when I was riding a certifiable maniac. How was younger me so calm?
It all happened after my first fall. We were having a peaceful stroll when Trigger decided it was time for me to go and madly bucked until I sailed through the air and hit the ground. My confidence evaporated. I couldn’t understand how I had fallen when I had been getting so much better at riding? It completely rattled me. I was determined that it never happen again and said to my instructor….
“Can you please teach me how to ride so that I never fall off my horse again?”
Then she hit me with it…
“Em… you are going to fall off. You are a rider. You can’t ride and expect not to fall”.
She continued; not realising the butterfly wings she was flapping and the future epiphany she was constructing.
“…the point isn’t that you fall. Everyone falls. All you need to know is how to fall”.
THUD. Of course I am going to fall off! How did I expect to be trying new or perfecting old without the occasional slip? That’s why I was calm! When something is a certainty it stops becoming a big deal when it eventually happens. When did I forget that?
Life is our ride. Our horses are our actions, skills and dreams. We are going to fall… we just need to fall right.
So here’s all I know about falling off a horse…
Kick your feet out of the stirrups
The horse has started bucking. You knew it was coming just by the way the horse was walking. Now it’s kicking madly and you are just holding on for dear life!
This was where I could see all my habits going out the window… I was eating badly, staying up late, drinking wine every night. I knew it was all wrong but I was just too scared to let go of the reins.
It is time to recognise what is happening and release yourself from the behaviour. It may seem scary to let go – knowing the hard work that is about to come – but once your feet are out of those stirrups you are free. And you won’t get dragged along for the rest of the rollercoaster.
Relax into the fall
You’re in the air now and you have that beautiful, terrifying weightlessness of uncertainty.
For me this was where I surveyed the damage. Accepted all those mistakes I had made. Yep… I ate a box of Kraft Deluxe Macaroni Cheese. It comes with a tin of cheese in it. Just let that sink in for a second – a tin of cheese.
See the positive in your ‘perceived mistakes’. For some reason you needed to fall… there was a lesson in there. For me it ended up making me feel like I made headway on my wellness mission because I did not enjoy one bite of the mac cheese! It was too salty and it stuck to the roof of my mouth. I purged after it which I haven’t done in a long while. I felt awful.
So even though I started off feeling like an awful person for eating this once I relaxed into it I realised that it was the sign that I have changed. I am getting stronger and healthier every day.
Accept that you are off the horse. You have stopped those bad actions. Stop beating yourself up. Relax into the fall. Let yourself hit the ground.
Curl up like a hedgehog
You’ve hit the ground. Now you better curl up so you reduce the chance of getting hurt by the second wave (be they horses legs or self doubt).
Now that you have freed yourself of the destructive behaviour and accepted what happened you need to figure out why to stop it knocking you straight back down again.
For me it was understanding that my to do list was overwhelming me and my new house was so disorganised that I just couldn’t keep my head above water. I called on the support around me so that I could dedicate myself entirely to organising my house. Once it was clear so was my mind.
Self reflect… do need a bit of break? Do you need to realign your intentions? Have your intentions changed? Do you need to reset your goals? Were you just self-sabotaging? If so, why?
Once I understood Trigger I could preempt when he was about to start bucking and why.
Understand your trigger.
Dust yourself off and get back on
My instructor told me that if I didn’t get straight back on then the horse has won. Horses are smart and they will remember exactly what to do to get you off and keep you off.
You’ve had a temporary slip-up: that is all. Don’t let it become a habit just because you got a bit of a fright.
The longer you wait before you start exercising/saying affirmations/ loving yourself/whatever it is, the harder and scarier it will become to climb back on.
You got this!