Focus on progress instead of perfection... Small steps add up!

  • Do you set yourself extremely high standards and then mentally abuse yourself if you do not meet your own expectations?
  • If you make a single mistake do you blow it out of all proportion and torture yourself with your own 'inadequacy'?
If so, you could well be a perfectionist. That's not necessarily a bad thing - but if you allow your trait to become all-absorbing you could well find that you suffer. For instance your ability to learn could be affected - so your major passion of riding could suffer too!

So, what can you do to help yourself? Here are a few pointers. Your mind is a positive and powerful riding tool Click here

numbers 1 Set yourself reasonable goals

It's important that your horse-orientated goals are reasonable and attainable. Write down your current goals and ask yourself if they are reasonable for you. You might want to compare thoughts with your instructor if you are not sure. Remember that each goal should allow you to enjoy some success - otherwise you will soon feel discouraged.

numbers 2 Do you allow yourself to be human?

Everyone makes mistakes but perfectionists can set themselves expectations that are just too high. First of all, you need to become aware of your expectations - for instance, when jumping your horse do you expect everything in a round to go to plan? Be honest, just how sensible and real is that? Give yourself a break and lower your expectations of yourself.

numbers 3 Be tolerant of your mistakes

Fear of mistakes can prevent some people from trying something, whether it's having a go at shoulder-in or jumping across country. Be aware that learning, especially if it is something new, does mean making a few mistakes. This is normal! You can get used to this by allowing yourself to visualize yourself getting something wrong - then think about how you would deal with this situation in a positive, effective, problem-solving manner.

numbers 4 You are just fine!

One of the most difficult things for a perfectionist to do is to accept themselves! Yet, if you could, you'd find that it would benefit your riding - just think about it.
If you were to worry less about your position or your riding ability, you'd be able to focus a little more on your horse, be less uptight and would probably ride perfectly well! So try to be less hard on yourself.

numbers 5 Use your self-talk to your advantage

You are no doubt used to 'beating yourself up' using the internal dialogue in your head. As any perfectionist will tell you, there is a tendency to think in extremes and disregard any positive thinking. Now is the time to start changing your inner voice - stop being so harsh on yourself, be kinder and allow yourself to do the best you can.

numbers 6 Small steps add up!

Turning from a perfectionist to someone who is less brutal in his or her attitude is not going to happen overnight. However, take a few steps every day and before you know it, change will occur!

numbers 7 Write it down!

If you are struggling to change your perfectionist mode, try writing a diary. List what you are working on with your horse each day and, before you ride, write in the diary the things that might go wrong. Now you've got them out of the way, concentrate on being 'in the now' when you ride. After your ride, write down everything that was good and positive.

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Dont give up! Keep doing this - at first it will not be easy but with time you will start to see a change for the better!