The horse's pasture to the East...

Monday, August 15, 2016

PATTERNS AND HOW TO CHANGE THEM, or How I learned to say, "NO."

I see patterns. The natural world is built on patterns. Did you know that there are sixteen separate types of snowflakes? We're told right from the beginning that every snowflake is different, and it is. But there are names for the groups of shapes that occur according to the weather. Are you ready for this? Simple prisms, stellar plates, sectored plates, stellar dendrites, fernlike stellar dendrites, hollow columns, needles, capped columns, double plates, split plates and stars, triangular crystals, 12 sided snowflakes, bullet rosettes, radiating dendrites, rimed crystals, irregular crystals. Whew! And within those types every single flake is measurably different. 

A few years back the Parelli Natural Horsemanship Organization put a learning system out titled, "PATTERNS". I bought it because I understood the idea. It was obvious to me that horses and dogs learn in patterns. Parelli has given the number of four to seven times for a new activity, for your horse to understand and retain it. That doesn't mean your horse responds perfectly in seven days, but it does mean that they know what you're requesting. It's up to the human to be good, better, best. Your horse has it down and will play with you at the level you're at. As you learn more about your timing, how to have light hands, how to be playful and relaxed and how to be provocative without being antagonistic your interactions together go to a higher level and, if you're lucky and specific, you sometimes attain that five minutes of elegance and perfection that makes your heart sing

People learn in patterns too. Some of those behaviors are set in place very early on by our parents, grandparents or guardians. If you are loved unconditionally, comforted when frightened or hurt, encouraged and supported and grow up knowing that you, just as you are, can accomplish the goals you are willing to work for and you're given the attention you need to help you reach those lofty ideas, with honest praise, you will grow up to be a person that gives those same behaviors to your children as they grow. It's a cycle. 

I'm an artist by profession, a trained observer. And one of the things I see over and over are the patterns in the world. They fascinate me! And it's the same with the people around me. I see them repeating behaviors when, I'm fairly sure, they have no idea the circle they're in is one they've been in for years. I do that too. If my behaviors have changed it's because I  set out to make myself react differently so I would not pass on the patterns of behavior I thought were wrong, inappropriate, hurtful and abusive to my children. I made it a goal to give them a foundation more stable than mine was. 

But I still, sometimes, find myself falling back in to a set of interactions, with the people around me, unconsciously. And one of the things I do is allow people to take advantage of me because I love to please. I truly like people. I enjoy all of the messy, smelly, funny, clumsy, angry, anxious, farty, humanity of it. The down side is that I am not doing a good job of protecting my personal time and space. I put myself in a place where I am disappointed over and over. I always say, " No worries. " when someone cancels out an appointment  although I've changed my day around to suit them, done my research to get us where we're going and set my plans to the side to help.

It's a Zen kind of thing for me. I love to help. I believe in the concept of paying it forward. It has to be true generosity given without expectations to be effective. Finding that balance is a challenge all on it's own. I do not want to patronize. I don't like it when people do that to me. I hold a hand out and say, " May I help you?" And if they say," No thank you, I've got it.", I always smile and say , "OK. " And I assume they really do want to figure it out on their own. 

The other half of that coin of yin and yang is understanding when I'm being taken advantage of and treated with a lack of respect. After all these years with horses, you'd think I'd have that one down, wouldn't you? How interesting.

When I am not focused while around my horses, they recognize that. And one of them, usually Apache (my LBE) will try shoulder checking me . Or they will barge in to my space, usually Lucky (my LBI and alpha of the herd). He will step on a rope or pull something out of my pocket. And it makes me laugh because they are much better teachers than I am.  

There's a pattern of behavior I've noticed in the people around me that, over the years, has happened repeatedly. They call and ask for help, usually with their horse or dog, their garden or some design they're working on. Would I be available tomorrow to help.( And it's nearly always tomorrow! How interesting.) 

And I say yes, glad to help. I rearrange my day to be there, setting time in my studio or out in the field painting, drawing or working with my horses (remember, I said I'm an artist by profession. I am, literally, setting aside the job that I have to help people with their hobbies.) to be there for them. And then they cancel the next day. I've lost track of the number of times that's happened. I can tell you that doesn't surprise me anymore. And my reply is always, " No worries. " And, again, I am disappointed. 

I tell myself that I don't want them to feel pressure. But what I'm really doing is NOT setting myself or them up for success, especially if the time spent together was to help with their communication skills with their horse(s). I love being an ambassador for a system I truly believe in. I'm here because I want them to be safe. I truly want people to come away from our time together feeling successful and enjoying it so much they want to try it again. 

This morning I asked my husband, John, for help to change my response. I can't change what other people do. That's their rodeo. I can decide how I want to behave. 

Yet another person canceled on an appointment they initiated yesterday. And, again, I was disappointed. But that's a fruitless kind of anger. There's nothing gained by allowing it to control me. I needed help. I asked John to be my simulated partner so I could practice different approaches.

John became the other person while I figured out how I wanted to address the next person that does this. And then I traded rolls with him. We went back and forth while we did early morning chores, until I had it worked out. 

While we did this I realized we've been here before. This is a pattern of behavior that has happened over and over in my life because I ALLOWED IT. I did not set my ground rules or have my responses worked out ahead of time. I think it's even a possibility I've attracted people like that in to my life. I seek it out because it was part of the pattern set in my childhood. 

That comes forward all of these years later to a set of expected interactions of me bending over until it hurts, to help others. They (and it happens with a majority of my friends interesting!) expect me to be there for them. And I not only allow it, I encourage it. I am not following my own advice. e.g.. Set your personal boundaries and, politely but firmly, teach your horse where that space is. 

Nancy, note to self : SET your boundaries. PROTECT your personal schedule and space. SHOW MYSELF RESPECT by being politely persistent with others and myself. VALUE my work as an artist and horseman and never put it off to please another. The balance to that is to be there in an emergency. If someone or their horse is injured or sick, drop what I'm doing IF I CAN, and be there to help. See the IF I CAN? I need to remember that I sometimes CAN'T.

There is no doubt the same thing will happen again. And now I have a set of skills set in place to change how I react.

I am changing my pattern . And now I'm out the door to work/play. Life is good!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, smiling and shaking my head at the way things go ( and still thinking about the sixteen types of snow flakes. Who knew?!)

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