Are you playing Mind Games?

Posted by Shilah Harmer on

Did you know that the key to success in every single aspect of your life is learning how to manage your mind?


Do you often wonder why your competition seems to have all the “luck” in the arena and you have no clue why? Do you spend a tonne of time analyzing how your run went, and how you wish it should have gone?


Maybe you train as much if not more than the girl who just won, and you know that you and your horses are just as athletic and talented, but you seem to miss out on winning or even placing more often than you would like to admit. You often leave feeling so discouraged and at a loss as to what to work on next.


Well girl, I’ve been there, and I am pretty sure we have all been there or are stuck there right now.


I competed regularly when I was younger and had my fair share of accomplishments to be proud of, but there always seemed to be a piece of the puzzle missing. I took a bit of a break when we started a family, and decided to get back into serious competition about 6 years ago, like serious, not messing around, let’s do this!


So how did I do? Well definitely not as good as I was expecting!


I literally threw myself back into competing full force and learned a lot of hard lessons…


I learned that it’s not only important to stay physically fit for my own health and success, or that having my horse fit and well cared for counts too, but that it still didn’t guarantee we would be breaking records in the arena…so what gives?


Heck, my mare was getting better care than the rest of my family at the time, which is Uber important by the way if you are super serious about being highly competitive.


Well


I learned (the hard, painful way), how staying mentally fit is so much more important than I had given it credit!  And it was very apparent that I hadn’t been maintaining that part of myself, not even close. Not only had I not been on top of my mental game when I was actively competing in my younger years, I had stopped training that part of myself pretty much completely, and wow did it ever kick me in the you know where!!


So what made me realize that I needed some serious work in this area?


Well a combination of things really; I was just too stubborn at the time to admit them. Little things like not being able to control my breathing anymore, struggling to visualize any aspect of the run I was hoping for, or not being in control of how a bad run would affect my self-worth…to name a few. I really felt like I was winging it most of the time and had no real control over my success.


I knew deep down that I was good enough and that my horse was too, but our results weren’t consistent and I really didn’t get why. I trained hard, I picked apart my runs, I changed tack, but I was at a loss…I also thought the crappy, overwhelming nerves I was now feeling were my new norm…


I had always had nerves which is definitely normal, but these were way more intense and had taken on a personality of their own!! I felt like they completely took over the reins! That was a very good indication that I wasn’t in control of my success at all!


So I kept pushing myself and I’m sure I would have continued to wing it, and struggle and not really analyse what was actually going wrong had it not been for a serious, unexpected adversity in my life…I won’t go into too much detail in this post, but let’s just say I woke up one morning and my life completely changed.

I went to get up like any other morning and get my kids ready for school, but was hit with blinding pain from my neck, that radiated down my spine and arms. In that very moment I was completely immobilized.


The doctors first thought I had broken my neck, and it was the most terrifying experience in my life. We later were able to determine that I had slipped not one but three discs in my neck. I was unable to walk for 2 weeks, lost the use of my right arm and, it was many months of rehabilitation before I was given the clear to start my life again.


Funny how serious situations tend to give us the opportunity for major reflection…


So what did I end up reflecting on while not being able to use much of anything other than my mind? Well, not only did I realize how much I had NOT been using my thoughts to my advantage, but how now faced with so many unknowns, just how incredibly important my mind would be in getting me through a really crappy situation.


I had to choose how I wanted to view my situation and that would ultimately determine my future. I chose not to be a victim of my circumstances and began to believe that I could get through anything. Something as simple as that very thought started to change my whole perspective on life.


We have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts every. Single. Day…crazy right?!


How important do you think your mind is now? So incredibly important that we need to start taking this mental toughness game a heck of a lot more seriously. And not just in the arena but in our amazing lives too! Learning how to strengthen my mental toughness muscle is exactly what got me through a not so great time in my life.


We obviously can’t control every single thought we have, but we can definitely shift how we feel about our situation, ourselves and others. That alone, can get us started on the right path towards a better mental state and more success in all parts of our lives. So do yourself a favour if you are facing some kind of adversity in your life right now, no matter how big or small, and change how you feel about it. Add a little touch of optimism; send yourself some love for facing it…show yourself and the world that you’ve got this!


You need it more than you know it...unless of course you are already doing amazing mental work and in that case I would love to hear all about what you are doing because just like you, I am still learning and building on it every single day!

*Stay Tuned For More on Mental Fitness*

You are Cowgirl Fierce, and you Got This!

1 comment


  • Thank you for this read <3 loosing my mind and the race is all I’ve thought about for weeks now. Also… amazing hats. I’m just in love with everything you do. Stay strong and I will too!

    Kat on

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