One of our equine co-facilitators (yes, that’s a fancy name for “horse friends”) at the recent Dust Off Your Dreams Retreat was a handsome little horse they astutely call “Precious.” Precious is a popular member of the Wildcatter trail string, and once we conducted a practice session with him, we knew he was the perfect one to illustrate the whole boundary issue exercise.
When Precious — cute, sweet, and gentle as he is — got all up in our grill(s) as he is in the photo, not one single one of us (myself included, I’m reluctant to admit) pushed him away. Because he seemed so friendly and interested in us, he nuzzled and pushed into our personal space, quite uninvited.
And we let him. And once we let him, it was nearly impossible to shake him loose.
Is there anyone or anything like that in your life?
While it’s fairly obvious to even the mildest of us that we need to protect our space from the mean-spirited or ill-intentioned (things, events or people), the real challenge can come from those well-meaning busy-bodies who come on all friendly, sweet and harmless — and before we know it are all up in our business, wrecking our confidence and putting us in a position of defensive vulnerability that is as irritating as it is debilitating. What’s worse is that it’s hard — if not downright impossible — to take our power back once it’ s been sucked away from us through these velvety soft nostrils.
But how do you differentiate true interest and support from nosiness and impending boundary violation? How do you cultivate discernment that accepts genuine kindness and support without developing a “prickly pear” personality that repels anyone who tries to get close?
Looping back to the answer-question that always comes from spending time with horses, “What do you think?” It is only in geting in touch with the profound observations of our “inner lead mare” that we can pick up on the subtleties of interaction that tend to provide the most reliable clues.
Any thoughts on this subject out there? Anyone, like me, who unintentionally invites these well-meaning boundary crushers — and then has to figure out how to disengage to avoid drowning in self-doubt? (Do you ever feel like you MUST have a “Tell me what to do” sign stuck on you somewhere?)
This issue, like so many others women, in particular (but some men, too), face, especially at transitional times of life, is very often brought to light in the horse world (and in barns of all sizes, shapes and disciplines worldwide, apparently) where none of us has all the answers, “experts” are everywhere, and horses have a special way of leveling the playing field.
Weigh in, everyone! How do you cope with a well-meaning busybody? How do you listen without letting unsolicited advice crack your confidence? How to you shield yourself from the negative opinions of others without getting sucked into their vortex?
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. There’s wisdom in numbers, and from what I’m hearing and seeing, this is an issue we could all benefit from romping around in together. Comment here, on our Facebook page, Twitter or YouTube (free t-shirt to the first person who talks to me via YouTube video!). We’re a community created to pull for one another on this Midlife Horses trail . . . it’s time to unite against whatever or whoever is being “Precious” in your life!