Friday, September 3, 2010

Bucks and Hops, Spins and Stops

My observation is that most of the problems we encounter in life are communication problems. Communication is two of more people sharing and understanding an idea, right? Well if that’s the case, how much communication is actually going on anyway? Seems more like people throwing ideas at walls, down holes, and into the wind. Very little of it actually being shared and understood. And we wonder why people have anger problems.

First time I rode that pony, she bucked my ass off. As I got up off the ground, still with the marbles rattling around in my head, and brushed the red dirt off my whole body, little did I realize that this would be a moment that defined our relationship. It was communication. There were many more bucks after that day, thankfully, none that actually caused me to hit the ground. It would be easy (and I’ve done it before), to get mad at that communication. It would be easy to blame my horse for bucking, call her wild and crazy, smack her and beat her up for being a horse. But I slowly began to realize that when my horse was doing something that I did not like, it was because I was doing something that she did not like. It was helpful to listen to her comments.

How often do we get constructive criticism in the form of a near death experience? Yet so often it feels that way. For some reason, we take things very personally from people. One of the wonderful things about horses is that they can be our mirror, give us feedback about our behaviors, attitudes, and demeanor without it coming out like a predator (as it often seems when coming from people). But not everyone gets to hear about their faults from a gorgeous galloping creature. Most of the time, it comes from people as screwed up as us, and it comes out angry. So we shy away from communication. We hide our true thoughts and feelings, run into a safe little hole, and worst of all, we don’t listen. Or we snap back, make things worse, and ruin relationships.

In my relationship with my horse, I have listened to her communications. I have looked to understand her thoughts and feelings, and sought out her opinions (most of the time). And those bucks and hops have begun to turn, and will continue to turn, into beautiful, expressive, and athletic movements. True unity. I would not have this relationship with my horse if I had simply made her behave. I might have a horse that didn’t buck, but I would have one that was distant, shut down, and even afraid to move. So many of our relationships end up turning out that way. Instead of being able to express ourselves wholly, we live in relationships that are hindered. And we hinder our own growth by shutting out the things that people say because they hurt us.

What does it take to be able to communicate (share and understand ideas...)? I suppose technically I should be an expert on communication, being a therapist and all, but the reality is that I am human and have all the crap that comes along with that. As therapists, we are at least supposed to try to understand our crap. The most effective way to communicate is to understand what you are saying- verbally, non-verbally, emotionally, energetically... and not be afraid to notice it. Then be open to the feedback you get from others, and try not to be afraid of it. Scary, I know, but it can’t be much worse that getting your ass bucked off by a wild and crazy horse, now can it!