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Overcoming Fear

At Refresh Equine Assisted Learning we use life principles that apply to both horses and humans. As such, our work with horses helps us to improve our human relationships. Last week we got a llama: an animal that some horses fear. Rosie is one of those horses!

We used our relationship principles to help Rosie overcome her fear. We also discussed overcoming fears in our work with the men of the Genesis Program and watched a video about how we helped Rosie. We worked with the following:

  1. Find safe experiences for exposure to the fear;

  2. Use a relaxation technique: go somewhere safe in your mind;

  3. Grow in knowledge through research;

  4. Enlist the support of others;

  5. Build on small successes.

Many fears are irrational or are appropriate in very limited settings while not warranted in others. Finding safe places to challenge fears is instrumental in helping one to grow. Someone with a fear of heights can find an enclosed, elevated location to look out from. Be aware that you are safe from falling if you lose your balance or faint: both are possibilities when experiencing a severe fear, especially if your fear response is to fawn or freeze (in fawn a person or animal will faint from fear; in freeze they will shut down and freeze). Our Genesis men got to observe one of our goats fawn when it was captured. The fear of being captured and handled overwhelmed Hopper and he fainted (and he is not a fainting goat). We have to do lots more work using Natural Lifemanship principles to help Hopper overcome his fear now that he has experienced this.

Once your system is activated with a fear response, you can help yourself with a discharge activity, breathing technique, or a relaxation activity. You can discharge the emotion in your body with activation via pushing. Push your fist against your hand with your elbows out, admit the difficulty of the situation out loud to yourself; switch hands and do it again. Blowing air out of pursed lips while doing this activity will also help you to discharge and regulate.

There are many breathing techniques. In the video you will hear “horse lips” (otherwise known as “blowing raspberries”) where you exhale through closed lips and let the air vibrate your lips. Box breathing is another: breath in through your nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out through pursed lips for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, and repeat for several sets.

A relaxation activity can also be helpful to move forward in conquering your fear. This technique is best used before your system is fully activated: as you pay attention to your responses you can catch the fear building and relax in the midst of the activity, or take time to relax after. Prepare for facing fears by developing a mental safe place. Perhaps you picture yourself on a beach with waves gently rolling in, on a forest trail, or in a gentle rain: use all of your senses to “place” yourself in the setting. Breathe deep and relax. Nature settings are particularly useful for this activity. We have some videos on our website for relaxation use.

Watch the video of Rosie overcoming her fear of Lliam the llama. Pick out the above principles in action. Ponder how you can apply them in your own life.

Be watching for part 2 where in addition to Rosie’s experience, we learn what a couple of the Genesis program men have done to overcome fears. By overcoming fears you will experience greater peace, purpose, and growth.

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