I am not doing enough (and other thoughts on a mental health day)

I've been beating myself up mentally all day.

The battle started when a inkling of a feeling came this morning that I didn't really want to go to the barn today.

I've had amazing rides all week and had been looking forwards to heading out there after a morning of clients regardless of a painful SI joint (an adjustment to my horse beginning to find his own hind end in a new way). The plan was to load up with the terrier and head out for an afternoon of grooming and flat work.

But then the dreaded thought of not really wanting to go out came into mind.

As I battled this thought I tried to reason out WHY I NEEDED to go out. How not going out would throw off my nicely laid out schedule and limit my ride time for the next week. How I should just go anyway regardless of the feeling of malais and discomfort in my back. How I would be guilty and not be doing good enough if I didn't go.

Oof. That last thought was one that hit hard.

I'm what I have self-diagnosed as a "type-A" in recovery. My past history with riding was one of competition and dedicated success. My re-entrance into horse partnership and consistent training has been one of maturity and re-defining the pressures I once knew as normal. Frankly, my goals and purpose have shifted and I've experienced the negative outcomes of self-degredation in other ways related to the "hustle" and I made a firm promise to myself that I wasn't going to bring that back into my new, adult relationship with riding.

So here I sit with my guilt and my shame because I decided to listen to my body and take a unplanned day off. If I were to consult myself as a patient I gave myself the talk that I would give to that patient. Rest or unplanned days off are not a dictator of decreasing returns on output. They are necessary parts of the puzzle. Aside from that.. where does the voice saying "you won't be good enough" if you don't go to the barn on an albeit gloomy, foggy, misty day when roads are guaranteed to by icy anyway come from? Why does taking care of yourself automatically mean you're not working hard enough?

Conscious me knows that these voices are old beliefs that hold no place of purpose for me anymore. At one point they were motivators and drivers behind my success, but all things have a time and place. What I've committed to present day is that guilt and shame have no place in the barn.

As I began to objectively witness myself as I processed the mental war ground I began to notice how much pain I was truly in and how that pain was effecting my communication with the dog and my partner. Did I really believe that pushing through and projecting that onto my horse was going to be an effective exercise?

Something I communicate to my athletes all the time is the difference between quality training and simply quantity. Quality training is diverse and valuable because it indicates you are showing up with presence to each session, whether that session is a specific skill being practiced or a way of being being embodied. All help move us towards our goals, even if it seems abstract or non-linear. Pushing through pain, doing what we believe or have been told is the way to success even if it goes against how we're truly feeling, ignoring what our body is saying in favour of what our mind believes to be true rarely leads to sustainable efficiency.

Often, instead, when we push through we end up with more pain, more dysfunction and more tension (either mentally or otherwise).

So.. that's my story today. I'm sitting with the voices that are telling me I should work harder and offering them compassion and support. I'm no longer trying to reason with them or allow myself to feel guilty because I'm choosing my own path. With compassion I am forgiving myself and others who at any point made me feel that I needed to be more or do more in order to be of value in this world, and acknowledging that I am capable of moving at my own pace and aligned with my goals by simply being present today.

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