You Can Be You.




Have you ever watched someone do something with their horse and thought, “That will never be me.” Or, even worse, had a trainer, experienced horse person or complete stranger (as they say in Texas “Bless their heart.”) tell you, in so many words,  the same thing?

After the last blog, I got some feedback (more like a personal attack on a Facebook thread) from a stranger that felt like I’d been gut-punched. It made public a very private fear that we all carry, horses or not. “I’m a fraud.”

I can handle differences of opinion. Criticism even. But in a few sentences, this person crossed that line and made it personal.

I know it got under my skin because when I thought about writing this month’s blog, I felt as though I’d swallowed a bowling ball. I’m familiar with that weight since I used to carry it around like an expensive handbag because of a horse accident that left me hospitalized. 

However, I also belong to an amazing writer’s group. I’ve never met most of them, but we all know what it’s like to write either publicly or privately. We all know the swallowed-a-bowling ball-I’m-a-fraud fear.

When I went to them with the feedback I’d received, looking for ways to stand back up after the punch in the gut, in return I got an outpouring of support. And humor. By the end of the day, I was laughing about it. My husband (who is also a writer) reassured and stood up for me. I went back and read all the comments I get from people who enjoy the blog. I re-read my writer’s group comments. I spent the next days only focusing on what was working and felt good, especially when that shady ol’ devil voice showed up inside my head and said: “You’re a fraud, and now everyone knows it.”  

After several days, that voice had gotten almost non-existent. And yet, I was relieved that it was another month before I would sit down and write again. Here we are, a month later, my handbag of fear clutched beside me. What better way to exorcise this demon than writing anyway, about the very thing that the small, rolled up in a hole part of me wishes to keep silent about. 

When it comes to anything we feel passion for (horses, climbing trees, baking, etc), when we share it we hope to share that passion for it too. Doing anything in front of people is nerve wracking because we know what it’s like to be human. As well as amazing kindness and goodness, we also have the capacity to be unkind, thoughtless, critical and mean.

Sharing your talent and your passion is an act of courage and extreme optimism. We are saying we won’t bow before criticism (bless its heart), we won’t yield to another’s judgment (or sometimes even our own), and we certainly won’t stop what we are doing and crawl back into our little hole.

So if you see another horse and rider, and you feel the need to say “That will never be me,” celebrate that. Because it won’t ever be you. YOU can be you, and your expression of horsemanship is uniquely between you and your horse. You know yourself, and your horse best. You know what feels right and good, and what doesn’t. I think where a lot of us get hung up is trusting ourselves. At some point, there comes a time when trusting who we are is the only choice we’ve got. 

When and if the thought “That will never be me,” arises, try this. If you hear or think something that stings, find five more things that don’t. (Or conversely, remember my favorite bumper sticker: “Don’t believe everything you think.”) Talk to your friends – I bet they have a lot of ways to move beyond hurt feelings. Look at your horse’s soft and kind eye; there isn’t anything there but an appreciation of who you are. Every time that shady devil shows up to whisper in your ear, go back to the good stuff. Go back to your horse.

 

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Photo: Lindsey Tedder

 

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

About the Author

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A lifelong horse woman, learning how to listen to horses.

65 Comments

Your courage is awesome. Your self love is inspiring. Thank you again for a “from the heart and soul” entry.

This blog post and the amount of insight it expresses proves that “you ain’t no fraud”. One hallmark of frauds is that they have almost no self knowledge. 🐎

Lovely post, and I appreciate your courage in sharing it. To assist me in situations with swallowed bowling ball feeling, I try to remember FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real and also that what a person says or writes about me, for both compliments and insults, is more reflective of them than it is me. Blessings!

Crissi
This is a little scenario I find hard to forget. A rider at my boarding stable lost her balance when her horse shied in the arena. I helped her up and noticed her spurs had turned all the way around to the front of her boots. I suggested she take them off and helped her back on and then a few minutes of supportive “coaching” to help her get over her scarey fall. Next day I was chastised by her trainer for giving advice as I’m not a trainer and told I would be kicked out of barn if I ever told her students anything!
Blew me away at the time and hurt my feelings. I am super careful now not to say anything when I unfortunately see horses being tormented by some unknowing rider who’s trainer has not informed them of some basic horse care and yet they are teaching the student some discipline like jumping or barrels.
I feel guilt for not helping in a kind way,for the benefit of the horse. However, reality has shown me there are defensive,mean,self serving folks that can make my life miserable. A big shame for the horse as usual.

Yes, Janie, I am also familiar with that side of things. It’s heartbreaking and pointless to be sure. I’m sorry you had the experience – and sorry that “trainer” couldn’t see the gift of your presence. It’s like that though – some of us humans serve ourselves above all others. And you’re right in choosing to not put yourself in their line of fire – in that situation you’re doing the only thing you can do-taking care of yourself. It’s difficult – there are many times when I want to speak up. Mostly though, our clinics are the haven I live in and I don’t go to horse events anymore. We can only be a part of a ripple in the pond. Enough of us together and the ripple is a wave. That’s what I take refuge in too.

Well done. I am amazed at how eloquently you express our deepest thoughts and fears. And how to deal with it. Thank you for sharing and being you.

Joni

Your wise and compassionate words resonate with me every time. Imposter syndrome is a nasty and insidious little demon. It takes a lot of will and courage (not to mention intelligence and resourcefulness) to push back. I appreciate very much that you share your process.

Good comeback, Crissi…you know that the ones who know you, love admire and respect you AND your abilities, not only wit horses but with life. Reminds me of a Crankshaft cartoon: a teenage girl helped her elderly friend set up a gardening blog. The next day the old lady is horrified about some really nasty comment on the blog; but the teenager’s eyes light up and she says, impressed: “Wow! You already got your first hater!”

Absolutely wonderful post, thank you, It really resobates for me, having encountered something similar myself! Thank you for empowering sentences like “Sharing your talent and your passion is an act of courage and extreme optimism” because it is so true. It makes me feel less isolated to hear your reflections, and more determined! Best wishes, Joanne, Cardiff UK

Loved this Crissi, don’t worry about being a fraud, I’ve been winging it for years and no one has noticed!! Remember you have two pet Ninjas so just point out the moron and we will deal with it LOL!!!

Crissi what a beautiful post! I feel the pain and sensitivity! Thank you for the courage to share this. it actually helped me also with a situation. You are amazing and gifted and I am so glad you have/had such a wonderful support group, learned and shared to much! xoxo

Chrissie, I did a clinic in NH with you and Mark many years ago. I brought a green horse and lots of fear and self doubt. You were encouraging, kind and inspiring. By the time I finished my session with you, I believed I could “do it”. You focused on my little successes, eased my mind and calmed my fears of failure – all by just being you. I’ll never forget that gift.

And yes, my horse’s opinion of me is the only one that matters.

Cathy! You’re a gem. Thank you for letting me know about that session with your horse and how it helped. It’s comments like yours that put more nails in the “Ima Fraud” coffin.

We are all unique in our own way. We should do what feels right for us as individuals. Imagine how boring it would be if we were all alike and doing the same thing. We were created with out own special gifts, which we should improve on and use. Those that say negative things are usually jealous of what you have. Horses not judge and like us for who we are. They are our mirrors. They will trust those that are honest. Believe in what your horse says about you

Crissi, I was recently in a horse accident that hospitalized me. I broke 10 ribs, my clavicle and punctured my lung in March. I am just now beginning to get on my horse and ride a few steps. Would you be willing to correspond with me? My name is Lori and my email is Timsalo@msn.com. thank you.

There’s a HUGE difference between “feedback” and “personal attack.” I read about an internet term for that kind of negative commentator; it’s called being a “seagull.” Basically a person who swoops in, drops a “load”, then flies off again. (Kinda makes me feel sorry for the horse such a person might own!) You’re diffusing it in the best way!

I like that Josie! 🙂 Yes, there is a huge difference between feedback (given for the benefit of the receiver) and personal attack (done for the ego boost of the giver). Thank you for the seagull analogy – made me laugh!

Thank you, I rarely even comment! I am honored you will write and share your experience. I want to write about what I do with horses but don’t. I notice my confidence waver when I try, like right now, so thanks for listening… I need to take my glasses off and go check in with the horses and remember who I am. When I know, I know🌺

Exactly. Thank you for taking the chance to comment here – I know what that means. I was terrified when I started this blog. But through all the encouragement of wonderful hearted people like you, I am becoming more confident. I guess the personal attack was a good measure of where I am, and in that sense I am grateful.

thank you for another excellent post! Love the handbag metaphor and the confluence of “the hater” experience with being who we are with our horses and our greater herd!

Nice article! …which hits home for me as a singer…. I recently took a quiz called Unlock Your Sacred Leadership Archetype. My fear assessment came up as fear of being a fraud. The archetype for fear of being a fraud is The Queen in this assessment. I thought, “Great, I’m bossy and controlling. However, I loved the description and would be honored if even some of it is true.

Here’s what it says:
Your Hidden Sacred Leadership Archetype:
THE QUEEN
When the Fear of Being a Fraud is present in your life or business, the Secret Archetype
Power you hold inside of you is the Queen.
The Queen is the one who is fully comfortable in her own skin, owns her brilliances,
skills and accomplishments and fully owns her value. She is experienced, has been
around the block, and knows how deep her wisdom runs. She knows she is beautiful
– no matter what she looks like. She doesn’t need to impress anyone else or put on
a show – she radiates wisdom, and experience. The Queen is the part of you who is
regal and sophisticated. She loves being in the spotlight – not because she is greedy or ego driven – but because she knows deeply that she has a sacred gift to share with the world and is fully prepared to share that gift with grace and ease.

Thank you for sharing yourself with us!

I just got such chills-wow this is powerful. I am a sucker for Archetypes (is this from Caroline Myss?) and this resonates so deeply I can taste it. Thank you SO much for sharing this with me!

Her name is Joanna Lindenbaum. I love Archetypes as well and saw her ad on fb, lol. I couldn’t resist downloading and taking the quiz. Should you decide you’re interested, you can google her. The quiz is free and I might add beautiful. I feel like my horse is helping me learn about myself as a woman, which has me reaching out for additional resources 🙂
Thank you for your lovely replies and Thank you again for sharing yourself in such an open and honest way with us.

I’ll look her up! You might be very interesting in Caroline Myss’s work too. She has an amazing book, all about archetypes, called “Sacred Contracts.” Thank you!

I love this. We all carry this fear of being a fraud and there are others who are more than willing to tell us that. I believe that they have bigger fears and react by attacking others. It’s okay to disagree, just not to be rude. That’s how I try to live and how I tried to raise my children. I’m at a point now with my horses that I’m loving being with them and doing what we do no matter how it may look to others.

Thank you for this. I watch as so many I know go to clinics, shows, trail riding, etc. Or purchase the latest DVDs or sign up for the newest online training. I have money for A horse. I occasionally gets DVD or attend a clinic. I do buy some books. I read as much as I can online that is free. But I don’t know how others spend the money they do. Not only that, but I chose to rescue a horse after I lost mine. 3 years later we have only had a few times in the saddle due to physical issues with her that have come up over time. But I know our journey has been rich for her and for me. I look at her eye and I remember. I remember being a kid, a kid with her horse. And that’s all I needed. I am in the process of accepting that when the time is right for me to learn more, the opportunity will present itself. But my main teacher has been my horse. And writers like you. Thank you

thank you for this.Honesty is the key to many questions.having the courage to ask myself the right question and the faith to believe in myself again and again builds my trust.once you have these tools and remember to use them noone can shatter you with theyre opinion.

Thank You Crissi. I admire your strength. This fear of judgment has prevented me throughout all of my life from trusting myself. It is only this past year or two i’m learning to stand in my power and let all the arrows go straight past instead of straight into my heart like they did before. I had a friend say how can you help others if you hide in the corner where your light is dim. How can you shine brightly like you were created to. No darkness can put out the light, the light will always shine through. You inspire me. Thank you

You inspire me too, Victoria; I know how threatening it can feel to stand in your power and let your light shine. There may be dim days too, but our lights cannot be extinguished.

How could I have not heard “don’t believe everything you think” before. Thank you for telling us about your experience and for reminding me “that won’t ever be me.” It’s a valuable and valid thought.

I’ve recently discovered your blog and am truly enjoying it. One small phrase that helps me deal with that devil’s voice is “feelings aren’t facts”. You may have felt like a fraud but you, in fact, are not! 🙂

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