By Margie Sugarman
Margie Sugarman is a leading board-certified psychotherapist and sports consultant based in New York. Margie’s desire is to enhance performance through the connection between the mind and body, and her current client list includes Olympic, professional and amateur athletes across the country. Her experience employing various therapeutic modalities has helped equestrians win classics, junior medals and grand prix. Do you have a question you want Margie to answer? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I did terribly at the last show in which my horse and I competed. I made a rookie mistake in the beginning and wasn’t able to mentally get over it. I was distraught and I confused my horse. I couldn’t let it go and move on, and it impacted us for the whole show. I’d like to “wipe the slate clean.” Do you have any suggestions?
We’ve all heard the old sayings “to err is human” and “live and learn.” No matter how true these statements may be, to make a mistake impacts our self-esteem, our confidence and our ability to continue on the path that embarrassed us. It also causes other emotional and behavioral concussions.
There should be a course in school that teaches us how to properly embrace our mistakes, to grow from our failures, screw-ups and shortcomings because they teach us powerful lessons.
Mistakes help us get in touch with our commitments. A mistake is like a flashing red light that says, “this needs to be fixed.” The urgency creates havoc in our being, but the commitment, approach and ultimate resolution allows us to pave a clear path to reach our goals.
Mistakes help us to accept that we are fallible and face our inner fears.
Sometimes our best efforts just don’t work out despite everything we do. This might happen over and over again — we’re stuck. Facing our mistakes often takes us straight to the heart of our fears. Once we admit we’re stuck and acknowledge we need help, the door opens and we hear and do things differently. When we face the fear, the resources and solutions appear and ultimately result in the fear disappearing.
Mistakes teach us what works and what doesn’t work. Mistakes teach us to take responsibility for our decisions and actions. Mistakes inspire us to think and improve.
You must remember that mistakes are what you do, not who you are. This is so often forgotten!
It’s important to remember that when you make a mistake, you’re making progress. Mistakes are not a step backward, but rather a step forward that helps you see things with greater clarity. In actuality, they help you.
Mistakes help us build resiliency. Resiliency is integral to your moving forward despite obstacles that get in the way of all of us.
Mistakes are opportunities to truly correct behaviors that, left unchanged, could lead to much larger negative consequences down the road.
Mistakes do a couple of things really well: They indicate that you are really challenging yourself, which means you’re growing and learning something new; they indicate that there’s room for improvement. If there’s no room for improvement and growth, then why do it at all?
Take your mistake and question yourself: “How do I resolve this issue?” Focus on a resolution. Take the resolution to that problem and integrate it into your riding. Ask for help if you can’t figure out the resolution. Remember, you’re the amateur — ask the professional for guidance.
Theodore Roosevelt said it so aptly: “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”