Episode 198: The benefits of NOT believing you can.

What stands in the way of reaching your dream?
The ability to hold belief for the amount of time it takes to achieve it.
If it’s as simple as believing…why don’t we just believe?
There are many hidden benefits to NOT believing.

It conserves energy, allows you to stay where you are, and lets you experience less of the uncomfortable emotions that often come with trying new things.
What if you ARE capable?
What if you can do it if you just keep going?
Learning to hold space for belief is a skill you can learn.
I’ll explain more in the podcast.


Episode 198_ The benefits of NOT believing you can..mp3
Stacy Westfall: [00:00:00] Belief is the space between where you are right now and where you want to be.

Announcer: [00:00:12] Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill, this is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy’s goal is simple: to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.

Stacy Westfall: [00:00:32] Hi. I’m Stacy Westfall and I help riders become confident, communicate clearly and get better results with their horses. And this season of the podcast, I’ve been sharing with you some of the concepts that I teach to my students inside my programs. As I begin to think about transitioning to another season of the podcast, I was reviewing the students that I’ve been helping and the concepts that I have taught here, and I started challenging myself to look for the most common challenge that I see my students face. And it didn’t take very long for the answer to appear. Because the issue, the biggest issue I see in the vast majority of riders, easily 90 plus percent of riders that I deal with is a lack of belief. There are three different areas that that can show up in, but I really think you could just stick with lack of belief. Sometimes that lack of belief shows up as a lack of belief in their dream. Oftentimes it is a lack of belief in themselves. And the prettiest version–there were air quotes there on pretty–is actually a lack of belief in their horse. Now, people don’t generally say that they have a lack of belief in their horse. But if you look way back at Episode 22, I recorded an episode of this podcast called Beyond Prey versus Predator, You’re Underestimating Your Horse. So the way that I see the underestimating the horse show up is way more undercover than the lack of belief in themselves or the lack of belief in their ability to achieve their dream.

Stacy Westfall: [00:02:36] But I’m putting it on the table. So there you have it. The biggest issue that I see facing the majority of riders is a lack of belief. So what’s the fix for that? Do you just snap your fingers and decide that you’re going to believe? I don’t know about you, but that’s never worked for me. I think a very interesting way to look at it is actually to come in from the back door. Let’s go the opposite of this. What benefit is there to not believing? There really is an answer. Are you actually trying to answer it? This is not a make-believe question. I’m serious. What benefit is there in not believing in your dream? If you actually stop and look, you will likely find that there are many benefits to not believing. I’m purposely talking slow because the impact of this is going to be even stronger if you put it into an example that fits your situation. I dare you to hit pause right now and imagine something that you’ve been dreaming about doing, but you haven’t taken enough action on yet. How much action you’ve been putting in will be the proof of how much you believe. So if you continuously take action, even if you don’t have the outcome that you want, that continuous action is the proof that you believe because you continue taking action. But if you stop taking action, that’s actually a sign that you’ve dropped your belief. So what is the example for you of something that you’re actually not taking as much action as you know you could so that we can have that in your mind when you discuss? How do you benefit from not believing? Now that you’ve had time to answer this on your own, let me share a few of my thoughts on how you could be benefiting by not believing. If you don’t believe you can do something, if you have this dream but you don’t believe you can do it, then there’s no real reason to try. And not trying actually conserves energy. Not trying is physically and mentally easier than trying. And then if you have decided that you really can’t, if you’ve got that heavy weight of doubt, then your brain will happily go to work thinking about all the ways that it’s totally true that you cannot do it. Every time something pops up that slows you down, it will be like, See, that’s why you can’t. See, right there. That’s why you can’t. Or that’s why you can’t right now. Or that’s why you can’t because fill in the blank. The short story here is you won’t be very likely to take consistent action that’s going to lead you somewhere if you don’t believe you can. Instead, you will conserve energy physically and mentally, and you’ll find more and more evidence to support that. You really can’t do it.

Stacy Westfall: [00:06:29] Now another benefit of not believing is that if you don’t think you’re capable, then you won’t feel all of the uncomfortable feelings that might be there if you thought that the two of you were capable together but you weren’t taking action. So I often see that the gap is closer if you just don’t think you can, because then there’s nowhere to go where if you really, really think you can or your horse can or the two of you could, then there’s going to be a lot of something in that gap. Sometimes people feel it as longing or searching, or sometimes it’s just plain work. But you can skip all of the failing and trying again, all of the messy middle stuff that I’ve talked about here, if you just stop now because you just decide to label yourself or your horse as not capable. To make this even more clear how about if I list all the yucky emotions that I often feel on the way to accomplishing something that feels impossible when I start? So when I think back to doing the bareback bridleless ride, when I think about moving from the first time that was a thought in my head till the time it was done it was impossible all the way until it was possible and here are a few of the lovely emotions I got to deal with and feel on the way: Uncomfortable. Pressure. Incompetent. Lack. Critical. Anxious. Annoyed. Overwhelmed. Rushed. Guilty. Disappointed.

Stacy Westfall: [00:08:28] I decided to stop the list there, but I could go on and on. Now, who decides they want a heavy dose of that? Look at all of the emotions that you can tone down or avoid by just simply not believing. Now, do you see what I mean when I say that it can actually benefit you to not believe? But what is it costing you? I think that believing requires you to be vulnerable with yourself. And that vulnerability is real and it feels risky. I just got a puppy. I’ve mentioned it a few times and when you allow yourself to have any level of dream allowing yourself to fall in love with a dog or a horse is vulnerable. You might know somebody who did it. And then when that animal died, they decided they didn’t want to do it again. And that could be because of the vulnerability. And it’s so interesting because as I’m falling in love with this dog, the interesting thing is that I know the story doesn’t end well. I mean, if you want to look at it that way, one of us will outlive the other one. So this is where the vulnerability and the risk meets the game. What does that gap between your dream, the realization of it, and where you are right now, what does that gap feel like to you? It’s interesting to think that children dream and believe pretty easily. So what shifts between childhood and adulthood? And a lot of times I think it is as simple as wanting to avoid some of the emotions that I just listed. But I think a lot of times it is avoiding the worst-case scenario. What is your worst-case scenario if you believe in your dream? Have you ever heard someone say, what is your why? I remember reading a book years ago that was titled, Start With Why. And so it’s this idea that you need to know why you’re doing something because that’s going to be what drives you. And I do believe in that. However, I also want to add the layer of your why is sometimes something you discover along the way. So here’s a story, true story for me. I have always loved photography. Years ago, I learned how to develop film in a darkroom. When my kids were born, I upgraded and bought a really nice camera and I used it. I have really great photos from back when you had to be very strategic because film was limited and you had to pay for it to be developed. I have loved photography for as long as I can remember. And I’ve chased this with little bits here and there all over the years. And I had lots of little excuses, like, well, yes, I got the camera, but the kids are little and I’ll pursue it more when this happens and I’d pursue it a little bit more. And there was this always this, you know, a little bit more and a little bit later and I’ll get better a little bit later. And I was incrementally getting better, but a few years ago I signed up for a photography class and it was during COVID. I had time to do it, I had the equipment to do it. And it was fascinating because a few classes in I actually realized I love photography but I don’t want to invest the time to learn all the ins and outs of it. I enjoy hiring a professional photographer for the events that I think I want a professional photographer for, and I am completely satisfied with taking photos on my cell phone. It’s so interesting because I still love photography. And I still think about the composition of a photo and the lighting. And I really do pay attention to taking photos that I will enjoy in the future, even if they don’t hold up to the standards of professional photography. I still love photography, but what happened to me when I did take the time to chase those breadcrumbs is I actually found where the end of my interest was.

Stacy Westfall: [00:13:39] Now that can be a scary thing for people. If they think that it would be easier to identify themselves as whatever they are searching for at that moment. Like there was a certain weight and a certain way of being that I carried when I thought someday I would really get into photography. It was very fascinating for me to get to the point where I pursued it enough to decide that I really didn’t want it. Can you see how, in another way, it might seem safer to just continue carrying on the story that someday I would pursue photography? To say someday because it’s just a little out of reach for whatever reason, or to pretend that it was never really possible because of some other reason? Because it’s a whole different mindset to say and admit that I really only want part of that. I also think that that realization some people could choose to be sad that they’d put that much time and effort and money and whatever else into something like my example of photography. And they could be saddened looking at the fact that, oh, wait, no, I really don’t have enough interest. I don’t have enough why to actually continue pursuing this, but I feel really free. I can now completely take that off the list of things that I want to do in the next ten years. I’m still interested in photography, but I’m way more clear on what that means. I actually enjoy seeing how far I can follow something and then getting that closure and moving on because I trust that what I learn along the way will serve me wherever I’m going. I think much more often a story like my photography story ends with self-judgment. Shouldn’t have wasted that time. Shouldn’t have wasted that money. Did something wrong, wrong path, whatever it is. And what that does is it shuts down your ability to dream future dreams. I think my photography story is a breadcrumb. And sometimes breadcrumbs lead me nowhere or what appears to be nowhere like in this photography story. But I’ve also had breadcrumbs that have led me to total absolute failure, like my first bridleless attempt when I was a teenager and I almost got seriously hurt. That was a breadcrumb and it led to nearly bodily damage. But the difference was that did slow me down, but it didn’t stop me. And then what’s really interesting is the first time that I decided to show bridleless, I also completely failed. Mind crazy, didn’t do all the maneuvers, nope, not going to place at that show. I labeled it a total failure and yet that still didn’t stop me. The difference is that those failures, because I had such a strong why, such a strong desire to continue on with horses in whatever form that was, I picture it like a river flowing around a rock. And those failures were rocks and I just flowed around them. Sometimes a long way around them. Sometimes it was a ten-year detour, but it just showed me a different path. And the whole reason this is on my mind is because when I was reviewing students and when I was looking at topics, this is what kept coming up to me here. Answer this question for yourself. Do you think that I, Stacy Westfall, have enough experience right now that I can look at you and your horse and see possibilities more clearly than you can? I’m going to say it one more time. Do you think that with my experience, I could look at you and your horse and see possibilities more clearly than you can? For fun I’m going to pretend you said yes. I watch videos of students. And when I do, first of all, I recognize how much vulnerability it takes to share a video of you working with your horse, because that is a vulnerable move. What is so fascinating to me is that I see so many students holding themselves back and moving slower than I know they are capable of because they are dragging along a 50-pound weight of doubt. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can carry around a bag of grain and do some amazing things with my other arm. Maybe it comes from carrying three kids on my hips, but I can drag around a heavy weight and still get stuff done. But it interferes with my effectiveness and my efficiency. And that’s what I see happening to so many riders. I watch videos and I can actually see their ability and their horse’s ability and I see potential. And the next level is almost more interesting. I can tell them what I see. I can tell them the next step to take. When I am coaching, I do not hold back. And the most fascinating thing for me to watch over and over again is that they can only move at the speed of their belief.

[00:20:16] Belief comes before how. It is so natural for us to want to know how something’s going to happen in order to be able to believe. But it doesn’t work that way. I know because I tell people how, but when they don’t believe they can’t do the how, because they have to have the belief. And so that goes from when somebody is giving you step-by-step instructions that you still have to carry the belief there and it can go on to a bigger scale. Like when I was coming up with the bridleless, bareback bridleless reining routine. I had to have belief that I could find the way, despite all the unique challenges. At the end of the day, it is the belief that makes the how unfold. It’s what keeps you going for the next three years or until you get to the point like I did with photography, when you realize where your end of your interest in that area lies. And don’t get me wrong, there’s times that I do that inside the horse world. I pursued, for example, mounted shooting up to a certain point, and then some circumstances changed with my horse’s soundness. And I have other horses, and I could go down that road and I just haven’t because my interest just flowed somewhere else. Belief is the space between where you are right now and where you want to be. And learning how to keep that space open and not fill it up with all of your doubts and all of your evidence that you really can’t do it is an actual skill. It’s a skill that I have learned and I use for myself. And it’s a skill that I teach and I use with my students. Listen to what one student wrote in and see if this helps lock this idea together in your mind. Here’s what she wrote: Overwhelm. I think of it as an emotion.When I started The Train Your Own Horse program, I felt overwhelmed and insecure about my ability to train my own horse. You tell us, “trust the process.” It’s easy to trust the process when someone like Stacy is coaching you. I’ve also heard you say there is no one answer that fits everyone. You have been so flexible in your approach. I feel like you know my horse. This demonstrates a much deeper level of commitment to our success than I’ve ever experienced or expected to experience. I have trusted the process and I am so glad I did. I have grown as an individual, so much more aware of my own tendencies and how to maximize what I’ve got. And my horse is hardly recognizable. She’s gone from preschool to knocking on the door of high school with college no longer unimaginable. Overwhelm is again a feeling for me as my eyes fill with tears of gratitude. I didn’t know this was possible.

Stacy Westfall: [00:23:39] Can you feel it? What she’s talking about is belief. What she’s talking about is the experience of me holding space and believing in her. Believing in her horse and believing in her dreams. Yes, she’s also gotten coaching on how to use the inside rein, and how to use the outside rein and how to use her legs. She has gotten coaching on all the technical skills that it takes to train your own horse, but what she’s gotten hold of is what it feels like to have belief and that is one of my greatest accomplishments. The first step of belief in this student success was me believing I could coach people without ever seeing them in real life. Her next step in belief was believing she could be coached without ever meeting me in real life. She had the belief that lined up with my belief and together it has been an amazing experience. I’m going to have to ask her if she’ll come on to the podcast and tell her own story sometime. But for today, I’m going to go ahead and wrap it up. If you would like some help applying these concepts that you’re hearing about here on the podcast to your own riding, if you want to know more about this mindset work, come join me in my online program. You have immediate access to all of my riding courses and some workbooks that cover mindset and goal setting. You have the opportunity to join me on live calls, to ask questions, to have your videos reviewed, and to watch other students who are working through this process. The video review that I did today for Kylie was eye-opening for everyone on the call, and the recording is already uploaded into the course. Thanks to all of you for listening, and I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.

Announcer: [00:26:16] If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit stacywestfall.com for articles, videos, and tips to help you and your horse succeed.

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  1. Kathy on September 6, 2022 at 5:14 am

    Dear Stacy, how true! The way you explain is just wonderful and it applies to all areas of our lives… Thank you for sharing with us all that knowledge and wisdom. You are just amasing!

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