Episode 279-The Pitfalls of Regret: Tracing Its Effects on Thought Patterns

In this episode, you will hear a segment from a recent Zoom call where Stacy celebrates a student’s first horse show experience. Within this conversation, three key themes emerge: the show as an evaluation of training, the challenge of riding within a structure, and the subtle presence of regret.

Topics include:

  • How regret can sneak in during good times
  • Why this thought pattern is destructive
  • Judging your past decisions
  • Intentional challenge or life’s ‘pop quiz’
  • Trail riding challenges

This episode highlights the subtle way that thinking patterns impact our future choices.

Show Notes:

Episode 279-The Pitfalls of Regret_ Tracing Its Effects on Thought Patterns.mp3
Stacy Westfall: [00:00:00] If you allow yourself regret, you’ll use that same regret that you’re using right now. When it went well, you’ll use it against yourself when something doesn’t go well.

JoAnn: [00:00:10] Hmm.

Stacy Westfall: [00:00:11] Regret is almost better defined as judging your past self’s decisions.

Announcer: [00:00:21] 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: [00:00:41] Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall and I’m here to help you understand, enjoy and successfully train your own horses. For me, part of understanding and enjoying my horses is maintaining an openness around learning my life lessons through horses. And when I say that, learn life lessons through horses. It’s easy to imagine that learning to build confidence and trust and connection is what I’m talking about. And I am. But to be truly open to learning also means opening up to things like insecurity, fear, and heartbreak. This podcast is almost two separate topics, but I’m combining them to show you how they are related. The way they are related is in the decision making process. The way they’re related is in how you make decisions and how you treat yourself after you have made those decisions. The first part of the podcast is a discussion with a student from a recent zoom call. In the call, JoAnn and I were celebrating her first time showing her horse, and this is just a segment of the longer conversation. But inside this segment, there are three things I want you to notice. I want you to hear the discussion on number one showing as an evaluation of your training. Number two showing as in riding in a little box. And that little box means a set time, a set place, a set pattern.

Stacy Westfall: [00:02:27] And number three, our discussion around regret. Don’t worry, I will remind you of those three things again after you listen to our discussion. And then I’m going to explain how these three things are true. Even if you don’t show your horse and in your everyday life decisions as well. Okay, let’s listen to the discussion.

Stacy Westfall: [00:02:55] Shows to me are just they’re basically an external ride evaluation. It’s very similar to me doing a ride evaluation here. I’m telling you about how the training goes. They’re telling you about how the training went. Like that’s the whole point of the test is like, “your training has led you to being able to do this, at a set time and a set place with a set schedule”. And so the challenge is that’s what I’m talking about with the box is the set time, the set pattern, the set schedule like it’s happening now. And your ability to ride in that little box is kind of like that, that moment of revealing. And in a way, it’s to me what you just did. And the reason it feels a little unclear to you is because you were just doing a baseline video, basically. Right. It just happens to be like a baseline horse show.

Stacy Westfall: [00:03:46] And that’s literally a thing. I mean, when we go show our horses the first time, every horse I’ve ever shown for the first time, I don’t go out and try to go for everything. That’s not a good approach, because just like the baseline video is there to show us what we have, the baseline showing is the same thing. I always go in and just cruise through is the way that I would phrase it. I go in and I just cruise through because I want to know what works and what doesn’t work at cruising speed before I start trying to get everything. What can I get better? How can I get higher? Where do I need to be? So to me, it sounds like it was a really great baseline. And you should definitely thank your friend for encouraging you to enter.

JoAnn: [00:04:31] No, no doubt about that. And that and I, I totally got that out of this experience that that it was my baseline show, and I definitely could have done it a lot earlier and I kind of wish that I had, but also making that choice, like, I mean, the the points that you’ve given us of saying, you know, I choose to do this. You know, if you just go in to choose to do a baseline show and just cruise through, like you said, it’s really freeing to just let that experience happen and and go from there, see what happens and, and just try to get started. That’s kind of the hardest part is just getting started and getting your feet wet.

Stacy Westfall: [00:05:07] Yeah, it really is. And I still experience it. Like last, um, October when I was, I took Gabby down and I was schooling her. And then I remember because I felt like I’d missed so much time from breaking my hand. And I had like, I had evidence this way and that way. And I literally sat in the truck and I was like, you just need to enter. And my brain was screaming, you’re not ready, because I had evidence that it wasn’t quote unquote as on track as I would have perfectly planned. And then I was like, wait a minute, I can totally feel, because if the more you do this body work, I was like, well, I can come up with facts that I’m not ready, but I can actually come up with just as many facts that I am ready. Right? I mean, I can’t guarantee I’m going to win, which I never can, and that if that’s truly not your point, if it truly is to go in and get these, these evaluations and this baseline, but I’m just telling everybody that’s listening, I still do that work. Like I still was sitting in the truck going, wait a minute. This is actually just your hesitation that’s stopping you. And yet you can have hesitation and you can come up with lots of answers, but I can come up with equally as many why I should show.

Stacy Westfall: [00:06:15] And so I chose to show and I did, and that was good. But keep in mind one thing you just said that you’ll want to watch, and it’s super subtle and it’s it’s again, whenever I’m bringing these things up to you guys, it’s only because if it shows up a little bit here, it’ll show up somewhere else. When there was almost that like temptation to say, I almost regret not doing it earlier. The one thing you want to make sure that you do. Because anytime little things like that come up, and I wasn’t on to myself on that for a very long time, but it gets very sneaky if you let yourself regret even something like basically good, like your almost / it’s almost like you’re saying, this went really well. I regret not doing it earlier. It sounds backwards to say right now that because it seems like obvious, like, oh, I could regret that I didn’t do this earlier because it went well. If you allow yourself regret, you’ll use that same regret that you’re using right now. When it went well, you’ll use it against yourself when something doesn’t go well.

JoAnn: [00:07:18] Mm.

Stacy Westfall: [00:07:18] Regret is almost better defined as judging your past self’s decisions. And you’ve got to be like past JoAnn, Joann October I don’t know. Let’s go back further. Joanne August 2023 made the exact perfect decision when she said she didn’t want to show. Does that make sense?

JoAnn: [00:07:42] Yeah, definitely.

Stacy Westfall: [00:07:44] And like I said, it’s interesting because it seems subtle, especially when things went well. It can be like, oh, I should have done that earlier, but can you feel how much more bite that would have? Like if you don’t take away the bite right now when when it seems like it’s a quote unquote good thing, what’s going to happen is next time it’s going to be sunny and the birds will be chirping and a truck will backfire and something will happen. You’ll be like, I never should have been here, and you’ll believe you.

JoAnn: [00:08:13] Yeah

Stacy Westfall: [00:08:14] You’ll believe you because you’re practicing this regret thing.

JoAnn: [00:08:17] Mhm.

Stacy Westfall: [00:08:17] You’re giving it power when you give it power in the quote unquote good regret version. But we just don’t need to have any regret. We can just be like. JoAnn was making the best decisions. And what’s ironic about it is what you know now is what would change your decision back then. But you didn’t have that information back then. So back then, that really was the decision.

JoAnn: [00:08:40] Right.

Stacy Westfall: [00:08:41] That makes sense.

Speaker4: [00:08:42] Yes.

Stacy Westfall: [00:08:43] Any time you guys are tempted to use regret, you’ve got to double down on making sure you’re not actually taking current knowledge and applying it to the past. Right now, when I’m sitting in the truck trying to decide if I should show Gabby or not, I’m taking current knowledge of myself and being like, wait a minute in my body. I feel hesitant because I don’t have a guaranteed feeling happening. I have a like this would be collecting information. Oh, I don’t want to collect information because it might not all be good. Oh, I can totally live through that. I’m totally showing today.

JoAnn: [00:09:16] Right

Stacy Westfall: [00:09:17] Which is a completely different experience than if I’m sitting in the truck deciding if I’m going to show. And I’m like, you know, all the flags coming from my horse are all red flags that I shouldn’t be doing this, but I’m going to go for it anyway. That’s those are all different experiences. And this is it becomes nuanced, but it’s very important to understand how you’re making your decisions in the moment. And it just became a line in the sand with Stacy me now is never allowed to criticize Stacy back then. Any time I want to, I have to go back then and remember what Stacy back then was thinking. And almost always I came up with great empathy. If I if I would change them now, I guarantee back then I didn’t have the same amount of information.

JoAnn: [00:09:58] Right.

Stacy Westfall: [00:09:59] There’s a lot of good that you can do just watching. You’re thinking.

JoAnn: [00:10:03] Yes, that’s what I’m gathering out of this. I’m going to be aware of that for sure. Yeah.

Stacy Westfall: [00:10:07] So but I just want to celebrate with you on that. That was very awesome. So thank you for coming on and sharing it. And, uh, maybe we can watch a video of it sometime.

Speaker4: [00:10:15] Yes, definitely. Thank you so much.

Stacy Westfall: [00:10:17] Okay. Awesome. Make sure you submit the video and the scorecard to the Google form. That’d be great.

JoAnn: [00:10:21] Okay, I will do that. Thank you.

Stacy Westfall: [00:10:23] Thanks. Bye bye.

Stacy Westfall: [00:10:27] Now that you heard the audio, let’s discuss those three points that I made. Number one showing as an evaluation of your training. Number two showing as in riding in a little box, meaning a set time, a set place and a set pattern and regret. Here is how this relates to you and your horse. Even when you’re not showing, you can take showing and substitute trail riding or regular everyday riding. And when you head out on a trail in a way you’re already testing your training, your ability to stop, to go, to turn, that becomes your little show. But. What’s missing a lot of times from those situations is that feeling of being boxed in, that set time, set place, set pattern. So the real test, the real show moment that happens if you are, say, trail riding or in your regular day riding, that actual show experience is what happens when something goes wrong. So when the deer jumps out or the squirrel falls out of the tree, or someone else’s horse spooks or bolts, that short time period, that’s your box. The difference is it’s a pop quiz. So instead of a scheduled test where you sign up to go show like JoAnn did, you are accidentally signing up for pop quizzes. And I said that at a show, the judge is telling you how the training went. Your training has led you to be able to do this or not be able to do this. When the deer jumps out, that’s when you see how your training prepared you or didn’t prepare you for that event. I left all the discussion around showing and finding out how the training went in this podcast, because it’s so actionable.

Stacy Westfall: [00:12:28] And those actions, if you know that when you pick up on your rein, your horse tends to resist or toss its head and then respond. Those things where it shows up a little bit here, they will show up bigger somewhere else during the quiz that happens, whether that’s a show or a deer. So when you’re riding your horse, those little things that show up show up bigger when you’re in a boxed in situation. And that concept is true in the physical world of the way that your horse responds to your leg or your rein. And also, it is true in our patterns of thinking, if I had shortened this podcast to only one topic, I would have clearly chosen just the part of our conversation around regret. The way that regret presented in this conversation is so subtle. But remember, what you practice is what becomes your habit. So when I take this concept to a broader picture of my whole life, not even showing my horses, not even riding my horses, that’s when I start to be able to see my thinking patterns. And here’s how I see it relating. I said, when you’re at a show, the judge is telling you how the training went. Your training led you to be able to do this. In life, we have frequently practiced thinking, so as we go through life, we’re either intentional about looking for those patterns of thinking and figuring out which of those works best for us, or we’re going through life practicing those patterns of thinking without an awareness of them.

Stacy Westfall: [00:14:16] So in life situations, just going through life, getting out of bed in the morning, going through your day before you get back in bed again, those are the training grounds of your life. And the testing grounds become those little boxed in moments. It could be something that happens when you walk into work or you walk into school. Maybe somebody asks you a question or cuts you off in traffic. How do you show up? Can you hear it? What did I just say? How do you show up? It’s very much like that boxed in situation of a show and whatever you have practiced or not, practice will be revealed. So those baseline habits that you have that you’re practicing, they become revealed when you feel boxed in, which is the way that I described showing. But another version of describing it would be any pressured situation contained. Little box. Set. Time. Set. Place. When I pointed out that regret is judging your past self’s decisions. There’s so much power in really exploring this. Having no regrets is not about making no mistakes. Having no regrets is actually the door that opens you to learning from your mistakes. When you begin to practice always treating yourself as though you were doing the best you could with the information you had in that moment, you become much more compassionate and willing to open your full thinking to yourself, literally you trusting you. I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast that I want to learn my life lessons through horses, and it’s easy to think about learning, confidence, trust and those things.

Stacy Westfall: [00:16:25] This has been a heartbreak week. My husband’s horse, Lucy, that I mentioned in last week’s podcast didn’t make it. That difficult birth set into motion a series of issues that did not resolve the way that we hoped. And right now, we are in that space between those two worlds where we talk about her in the present tense and look out into the paddock for her out of habit. And what that means is I can hear myself making the mistake of speaking in present tense, and in that split second, when my mind corrects it, I feel the loss again. And when out of habit, I glance to the paddock, I can feel that snag in my chest, that realization she’s not there. And then that deeper one that she will not be there. And it’s just settling into me that we are going to raise an orphan foal. But one of the hidden gems of this heartbreaking week is that there is no regret, there’s no judgment, there is a trusting of our past decisions, and there is still pain, but there is not suffering. There’s a quote that sticks with me from Kahlil Gibran, and I usually just quote the first part, but here’s the full quote,

Stacy Westfall: [00:18:00] “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.”

Stacy Westfall: [00:18:22] That’s what I have for you this week. Give your pony an extra hug and I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.

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