By: Jessica Wright
You’ve probably heard people say that you are what you eat. It is true! Your body goes through a process of metabolizing the food you eat, and using the broken down proteins and carbohydrates to replenish and build cells- the building blocks of your body. I’ve seen two foals the same size at birth, and one gets big and sleek while one stays small and poor looking, all based on the nutrition they receive as they grow. This is because we are what we eat!
Did you know that you are what you think? Neuroscience confirms that our habitual thoughts literally program our brain. With thought and resulting action, neural pathways are constructed, certain neurotransmitters, (such as seratonin, dopamine, or others), are released, and habits are formed. Our thoughts are the catalyst for our behaviors, which create our feelings. Did you get that? We usually think our actions are a result of our feelings, right? It may seem that way on the outside- you feel afraid, then you go in the show pen and your horse is chargy and out of control. Think about this a little deeper. How many of you have come out of a show situation like that and said, “I just knew my horse would act up,” or, “I knew I would forget my pattern!”
See, that’s a clue. According to neuroscientific research, the thoughts come first. The thoughts we choose to entertain cause subtle physiological changes in our body. For example, if we start thinking fearful or negative thoughts, it may cause our sympathetic nervous system to kick in to fight, flight, or freeze mode. Our heart rate may rise, digestion may stop, and breathing could become shallow. With these changes, we may begin to behave differently. Our bodies will stiffen up and our movements may become stilted and jerky. This is when we begin to feel the emotions fear or anxiety. Then we go act on those feelings, messing up our horse show run!
This is good news, folks! See, we can choose which thoughts to entertain. We can become mindfully deliberate in our focus. The Bible says we are to do this! “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
This takes practice. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of our underlying thoughts, or the ideas going through our minds. We get blindsided by emotion and allow our feelings to rule over us. God created us to have feelings. Our feelings are important and can serve as good indicators of the condition of our hearts, or what is happening in the atmosphere around us. We can discern what is happening with others, and our emotions help us have relationships with others. Our emotions are supposed to be our servants, not our masters. The way we make this a reality in our lives is by cultivating the habit of observing your thoughts without judging yourself.
Next time you ride your horse, take some moments to quiet yourself and observe your actions and thoughts. Practice remaining focused on the present situation that is happening with your horse. Choose to discard any thoughts that are not in alignment with your goal. Just because a thought pops into your head doesn’t mean you have to invite it to stay and feed it dinner! Kick that negative squatter right out the door! Be deliberate in replacing those thoughts with the truth. Think about the scripture; it s the plain truth. You will attract what you think about. So why not focus on what is true, honorable, and just?
This life is a journey, and we are always learning. We may as well learn how to travel well and abide in peace and joy! God bless, and happy riding.
Jessica Wright, wife of horse trainer Don Wright, is an AACC certified life coach, horse rider, and writer. Share your stories with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org