When I was a little girl, I had the privilege of being able to attend both ballet and horse-riding classes.
(I don’t use the word “privilege” lightly. I am highly cognizant of the privilege that is required to participate in both of these sports. They require body agility; they require means and they require access.)
As I grew into an adult, “life happened” and I forgot the passions of my youth in pursuit of “new adult appropriate goals”.
I focused on survival!
Ballet and horse-riding, beyond the childhood pink stages of pony play and girlish dreams, seemed like pursuits of the talented, the athletic and the wealthy. AKA the elite.
Areas where I did not consider myself as belonging.
In my youth, I pursued neither with the dogmatic commitment and perseverance required to take me into stages of competitive testing and progression.
I did not master pointe or pirouette, and the idea of beginning again as an adult felt challenging and borderline shameful.
It felt safer to my ego consciousness to keep those activities in the terrain of childhood fantasy.
So why, at the age of 40 did I return to these pursuits?
Let me first draw some parallels between ballet and horse-riding, as I view them:
So despite seeing the similarities in both sports that I chose to revisit in my glowing years as a 40-something-mother-of-two…
A woman, who by her own admission is not “athlete material” and has more enjoyment having a long nap than comparing my stats on Strava and researching upcoming sports events…
I do, however, have aims to grow and further establish my business as a thriving entrepreneur…. Something which oozes imposter syndrome and a dreaded insecurity around “not belonging”….
Feelings which are rather similar to the experiences of regarding myself as a “ballerina” or “respectable rider”.
I have a limiting narrative which tells me that big-successful-money-spinning-businesses belong to “other people”. Even people that I know, but all people that somehow have special personality traits, qualifications or existing structures which I don’t have, which I can’t have, which exist outside of my known world.
And so, I asked myself the question:
How can pursuing ballet and horse-riding support me in becoming a successful entrepreneur?
1. I believe that we hold the unconscious in the body, and the conscious in the mind. Being able to work with and access the unconscious requires us to tap into and work with the body - whether that is through feeling, movement or sensation.
There are limits to how much growth and change you can effect through mining the mind alone.
I have dedicated decades to therapising myself from various angles and so thought: In the same way that as within, so without – it is possible to reverse work with something. You can work top down or bottom up.
I can create a shift in awareness and insight (the mind) and wait for that to take effect in material reality (the body), or I can create changes in the physical body and wait for that to take effect in the related mind-shift (which ultimately translates to environmental shifts).
In my pre-existing mental reality, where I have beliefs about how I operate and exist in the world, this will translate into set holding patterns in the body.
I was curious – can I play with my relationship to structure, stability, life-balance, support if I work on these mechanisms in my physical body (core stability)?
Can I affect my fear-responses to life and risk-taking by challenging my body’s inherent survival and fear response in how it holds itself (for example: it is fearful for the body to train it to balance with turned out feet vs parallel feet or to trust itself on the top of a large mammal)?
2. Working to create shifts in the unconscious requires a bit of game-play and “trickery”.
The unconscious doesn’t have a concept of time or sequence. It has no filter for “rational” or “irrational”. That is the work of the conscious mind which tabulates, divides, and creates order between left and right – just as the mind is divided into two parts.
To the unconscious mind – if I have a “dream or desire” then it gets lumped together with all “dreams and desires” – it doesn’t differentiate between good or bad, logical or illogical.
Thus….. As a young child dreaming of ballerinas and professional horse riders, or getting jealous of sportier members of my family while I could barely catch a ball – it lodges these “dreams and desires” along with later “dreams and desires” such as writing a book or running a successful-money-spinning-business into the same bucket as “belonging to other people”.
If I have any hope of achieving one dream and desire out of this bucket, then I need to rework the whole cataloging system of my unconscious mind.
I need to confuse my unconscious enough to say: “Hang on a minute, these don’t belong together because there is no longer a correlation” – typically the work of the mind… but the unconscious is stronger and therefore the Trojan Horse or back door is required.
I can’t simply logically dictate that they don’t belong together… I need to embody that they no longer belong together.
I.e I actually need to show my unconscious… hey look…. I can be a ballerina / horse rider. I can do things which I thought belonged to other people. (The unconscious doesn’t need be to be “the best” ballerina… just experience myself engaging with my best effort.)
In this way, I am creating the messaging and new narrative of…. Hey guess what? You know that other thing that you really want but don’t think you are worthy of or can do? Well… there is some evidence here that actually you can…. That actually you do “belong”.
Being an entrepreneur is no more exclusionary than participating as a middle-aged small-fat non-russian-trained ballerina! No one is saying “please leave” other than you!
3. Challenging the Beginner’s Mind and making “mistakes”
Taking up any sport as an adult (or any new anything really) requires challenging the notorious “beginners mind”. This guy is closely guarded by the “inner critic” which insists that to not know something or to reside in the great “unknown” is the most dangerous place on earth and territory which should be left to “qualified explorers”.
As a result, that keeps us “playing safe” and choosing the predictable known vs exploring territory outside of our comfort zone, which contains all of those dreams and desires which we wish for ourselves but which fear moving towards.
How can we create shifts in our financial landscape if we are unwilling to learn how to manage our money better?
How can we reach new levels in our business unless we are willing to do things differently?
As the great magician Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
As such, we need to open ourselves up to learning. And learning involves a willingness to make mistakes.
As a recovering perfectionist, the concept of making mistakes and feeling the wrath of my inner critic which insists that I should know better, be better, is abhorrent.
I would rather settle down and have dinner with the devil I know and glance out the window and all the treasures awaiting me outside as I sip my devilish tea, then risk the lashing of tongues that my inner critic has in store.
This results in a divided will, which means that I can consciously proclaim that I want a successful, thriving business, whilst unconsciously avoiding any new behaviour which renders me exposed to being a beginner and making mistakes and feeling the shame of that.
Choosing outlets of ballet and horse-riding, both require me to heavily expose myself to engaging a beginner’s mind and feeling the shame of making mistakes and not really knowing what I am doing while I learn and progress…..
But the “value of that risk” is a few steps removed from the big conscious goal of being successful in business and being related to my financial bottom line. As such…. They provide a perfect parallel to increase the “muscle development” required to increase my capacity for taking risks and trying out new things in the terrain of business building.
4. Last but not least…. It fills my life with the energy of saying yes to passions. To bring in the element of play and creativity.
As much as I have given a theoretical, psychological depth analysis as to why “I can “justify” spending so much time, money and energy towards ballet and horseriding” in order to qualify my goals of the “adult appropriate business building” (as my inner critic would say)…. The ultimate truth is:
It is important to give time and attention to the playful and creative desires of our unconscious. Passion is creative. Passion and play are generative. It feels our energy body and injects us with life.
To only pursue goals out of “shoulds” and “survival fears” drains us and rids us of life force.
As a therapist and someone who is in service to supporting other people to find renewed shifts and freedoms in their lives, it is of paramount importance to keep filling my cup.
To give back to myself in nourishing and playful ways. Even if my ballet and horse-riding amounts to “nothing credible according to society’s perceptions of progression”, what it gives me is a sense of play, adventure and just basic FUN.
So in completion....
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is a forgotten childhood dream/desire that keeps getting postponed for “when you’re big” or “when you’ve made it” etc?
- What is a current “big dream” of yours?
- Are there any similarities as to how these two could be related to one another?
- What could be your “back door” to unraveling your unconscious to have greater access to achieving either one of these goals?
- Where is all the fun?