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Guest opinion: How horses exemplify staying positive in a negative world


By Kim Gratny, fullCIRCLE creative + coaching, and Michele Matt, Inspiring Solutions

Making time and space to reflect is one of the most influential growth-related choices I’ve ever made. Whatever the frequency, it’s helpful to think about how I’m showing up, how it’s impacting those around me and what I’m learning.

Reflecting on the unprecedented times we’re in recently led me to a webinar by Michele Matt of Inspiring Solutions. Michele’s attitude adjustment tune-up techniques about staying positive in a negative world are coupled with my insights and observations from decades of being around and working with horses.

Attitude tune-up technique No. 1: Listen to your self-talk. Humans have an inner voice that either encourages or discourages. When was the last time you listened to what you were saying to yourself?

Whatever we tell ourselves, whether it’s positive or negative, comes out in our body language. Animals rely on physical, emotional and mental signals to discern how trustworthy we are, how clear we communicate and how effectively we lead. They reflect back to us (think of a mirror) how we’re showing up.

Thoughts influence actions. Actions impact choices and outcomes. Choices and outcomes influence relationships. The stories written silently in our minds are heard loud and clear by horses.

Attitude tune-up technique No. 2: Pursue happiness. Happiness is a state of well-being and contentment. Given that humans spend most of their time reliving the past or anticipating the future, it’s no wonder we struggle to experience happiness.

How can happiness take root when we’re living everywhere but in the moment we’re currently in? Horses only live in the present. Within seconds of noticing something unusual in their space, they discern how threatening it is. If the threat is low, they return to grazing. Imagine how much more peaceful our lives would be if we simply returned to grazing after encountering life’s speed bumps.

Attitude tune-up technique No. 3: Seek comfort with change. Getting comfortable with change requires us to take action. This could look like taking one step toward addressing your resistance. Consider asking yourself, “What is it about the change that feels uncomfortable or threatening?” or “What about the change feels positive?”

Horses explore change through trials of success and failure. They are looking for an opportunity to “be” and they’ll cycle through different behaviors in an effort to find understanding and peace. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

Attitude tune-up technique No. 4: Value relationships. We were created for relationships, and most of us would rank healthy ones high on the list. No matter what is going on in our lives, having loving relationships makes life more enjoyable. Someone with a loving family and good friends is wealthier than someone who is poor relationally.

Horses are also relational, as illustrated by their herd mentality. When humans ask horses to be in a working relationship, trust is built when calm, clear, consistent and fair communication occurs.

Attitude tune-up technique No. 5: Stop “should-ing” your life away. “Should” is a word that traps us in a helpless state. Have you ever noticed how many times you think about what you should have done? When we’re stuck in this thought pattern, we’re deprived of living fully because we get sucked into the role of victimhood. Have you ever stopped to think about it this way: we’ve either done something, or we haven’t?

Horses are deliberate with their behaviors. Everything means something. When humans and horses are together, they’re either training us or we’re training them.

What one attitude adjustment tune-up technique are you going to try? How will you reflect on what worked well and what didn’t? Who will you ask to be your accountability partner?

Kim Gratny is the founder of fullCIRCLE creative + coaching LLC, where she and Cindy Kool combine their lifelong passion for horses and dedication to human growth and development into a consulting business. They’re part of Right Turn Cowboy Church, where God connects humans and horses to learn the Gospel. They find peace in living life slowly in the country with their families, horses, bucking bulls, sheep and dogs. Kim is certified in equine guided education and a member of the International Coaches Federation. Connect with Kim via email.

Known as “The Attitude Adjuster,” Michele Matt has written several books and training resources on the topic of attitude, including the best-selling book “Attitude: The Choice is Yours.” In her spare time, she enjoys traveling on her frequent flyer miles and sharing quality time with friends, family, four grandkids and two labs, Bailey and Murphy. Connect with Michele via email.

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