Back in the Saddle

Created by susan on 2019-04-10 19:43:17

In Texas we say “get back in the saddle” which implies it is time to overcome your fears and start anew. Many of my patients who have experienced failure no longer fear failure due to the fact that they realize that it is a prelude to success (i.e., auditioned for a musical or play numerous times until they receive a part or interviewed for many jobs until they were offered a position). Statistically speaking it becomes a number’s game (i.e., I was a bridesmaid seventeen times before I met my Prince Philip and became a bride at age 35) and perseverance is the name of the game! This translates in Texan phrases to “more than I can shake a stick at” which means a lot! 
Learned helplessness is a condition in which a person feels a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. In Texas we say “bless your heart” when someone is sad or feeling powerless over life events and circumstances. You may feel emotionally exhausted, but I have enormous compassion and confidence in your ability to transition from helplessness or hopelessness to empowerment. You may find that it is characteristic of disordered eating, chronic dieting, and formal eating disorders. Micromanaging your food intake and exercise regimen empowers you to feel as if this is one area in your life that you can control. But, once you gain more control over other areas in your life you will no longer feel compelled to be as preoccupied with your caloric intake and exercise routine. It is paramount to address learned helplessness since research shows it correlates with psychological disorders and can exacerbate depression, anxiety, phobias, loneliness, and shyness which is a genetic predisposition. 
Setbacks can have a profound effect on us. I have worked with many patients who have experienced a significant loss like an equestrian whose horse has died, layoffs in corporate America, or death of a loved one which led to grief and can manifest via excessive weight loss or gain. Give yourself permission to be sad by practicing self-care and not inducing blame or guilt. Allow yourself to grieve your losses via the bereavement cycle: shock and denial, depression, anger (i.e., Texans say “mad as a wet hen” which prevents internalizing your emotions) and acceptance. As excruciating as the emotional pain may be it will allow you to move forward and progress. You are not a weak person, but all of us at one time or another experiences losses. And, do not be afraid to seek out support from loved ones and psychotherapy which expedites the grieving process which typically lasts up to two years. 
You are more resilient than you can ever imagine so change your strategy for the next endeavor so the likelihood of being successful is much greater. There are three beliefs which characterize an optimistic  way of thinking rather than a pessimistic one which is more effective: 
Permanence: An optimistic thinker understands that problems are temporary and can be resolved. A pessimist thinker believes that problems are permanent and will never end. 
Pervasiveness: An optimistic person can see that problems are particular to that event/person/experience, not related to everything. A pessimistic person sees  problems as all-encompassing and universal.  
Personalization: It is vitally important to always take responsibility for your behavior or the role you may play in any situation, but an optimistic thinker believes that problems are external and not a reflection of who you are. A pessimistic person believes that all problems come internally from you.  
Now it is time to “saddle up and move on out”! Studies reveal that explanatory styles which is defined as a psychological attribute that indicates how people explain to themselves why they experience a particular event, either positive or negative. Explanatory styles play a significant role in determining how people are affected by learned helplessness. If your explanatory style is to have a positive mental attitude this will decrease the likelihood for learned helplessness and act as a deterrent. How does one “get back in the saddle” after experiencing disappointment, losses, and failure? Here are a few tips that this Texas cowgirl knows for sure will work for you: 
An important first step to becoming motivated to pursue your goals is to overcome your fear of failure and to become self-efficacious because some doors will close and others will open.  
Examine the reasons that you did not achieve your goals without being self-punitive, but assess how you can improve by implementing new skills or learn from the experience. 
If you succumb to failure as your fate, you may overlook opportunities to find solutions to the problem. 
Having hope and an optimistic, positive perspective regarding life’s challenges will help you overcome them. 
Being more proactive rather than reactive, motivated rather than discouraged, and confident rather than anxious. 
Now you are “ready and rarin’ to go” as we say in the Lone Star state! You can open yourself up for new adventures and discoveries you never dreamed would happen. Ride ‘em cowboy and cowgirl!