Rider Psychology

3 Steps to Turn Around Jealousy

Registered psychologist April Clay offers psychology tips for dealing with jealousy.

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By: April Clay |

Identify your ‘hot thoughts’

Chances are there will be a certain object (or objects) of your ‘hot’ thoughts, and an identifiable dialogue that goes with your jealousy. Chris, a hard-working junior competitor, often suffered from strong feelings of jealousy toward several fellow riders he barely knew. “Every time I saw them, all I could think about was how they had it so much better than me. Their horses were from Europe, only the best. Already trained. And here I was working my butt off on green horses that weren’t ready to do those same divisions, even though I could do them as a rider. I was just so mad that I didn’t have a horse that could take me where I wanted to go.”

Cool thinking

‘Cool’ thoughts are those that reestablish your equilibrium, balance your perspective, and enable you to get back to business. As an added bonus, they help you feel better about yourself. Green is not the most flattering of inner colors; it can even leave you feeling ashamed.

In order to arrive at a cool mindset, you’ll have to begin to challenge your existing inner chatter. For Chris, he had to acknowledge the flaws in his current thought patterns:

I won’t ever be able to ride in the divisions I want.

Not true. It will likely just be on a different timetable than some of my competitors.

It’s not fair; they have all the advantages.

They have some advantages, so do I. They don’t own every single one!

I might as well give up; it’s useless.

I don’t want to give up; I want to come up with a plan to feel and ride better.

The next time he faced a competitive situation, Chris was ready with some key thoughts that could redirect his focus. He added to this a visual image. Each time he felt his thoughts drift toward his competitors, he saw a ball bouncing off their heads and returning to him. It was a way of reminding himself to keep his energy for himself. He was not about to just give away his focus so someone else could reap the benefits.

Identify your own advantages

When Chris examined his own situation, he discovered his reality was not so bad after all. “I thought they had everything and I had nothing, but I had things they might well have been jealous of me for.” He realized he had the experience of training horses, which enabled him to develop skill in reading his different mounts. Competing in the “lower” divisions also made him focus on aspects of his riding that others might well take for granted. He could really use these years of riding young horses to perfect and refine his style, and be patient for the right opportunity and horse to come along.

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