Why am I on a Facebook detox?

Have you ever had a conversation, where you chatted to a friend, an acquaintance, a client, a boss, a stranger, and over the hour chat most of the things that were said were positive – friendly chat about life, issues, events, work performance etc.  But, one sentence or comment was negative or barbed.

Are social media and negative news leaving you feeling sluggish and lethargic?
Are social media and negative news leaving you feeling sluggish and lethargic?

“Oh, it’s ok for some, that they (you) have the money to visit London…”

“Oh course, when you did that, I wouldn’t have made that mistake, or chosen that route…”

“Yes, well we all know that you love to procrastinate…”

“When are you going to get a real job?”

And afterwards, what is the part of the conversation you remember?

As Baz Luhrmann says in his song, Wear Sunscreen…  “Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults, if you succeed in doing this, tell me how…”

Negativity, sadly, sticks.

Criticism comes in two main varieties – positive criticism and negative criticism.  Positive is necessary, and important.  Negative – well, it sucks.  I use this so much in my teaching.

“Well, done, that trot is looking so much better – you were on the correct diagonal, you had Snowy moving with so much more energy and you were both much closer to staying in balance.  Now, we need to think about how we can improve your steering”, is a lot more effective than “Will you EVER stop cutting your corners?”

I have had countless pupils over the years, who were preparing for exams and tests.  As an examiner, I know that many candidates fall down on speaking to the examiner.  Oral exams are not that common and putting the feel of a ride into words is somewhat challenging.  So, chunks of the lessons would be them creating feedback.  I would send them off to a task – jump the course, ride the dressage movement, practice those canter transitions, and then call them back, asking for feedback.  9 times out of 10, they’d start with – “I rode the combination badly”, or “the simple change sucked”.  They’d list all the negatives with utmost confidence, possibly because they thought that the examiner would be judging them, so they’d put themselves down first.  When I asked them what was good, they’d often go blank.  They were better at destructive criticism than at positive criticism.

I’d say no, no.  Not good enough.  I want to hear three positives first.  Blank look in reply.  So, I’d demonstrate the feedback that works.  One,  you and Snowy kept a great rhythm throughout the course.  He was forward, active and taking you to the fence.  Two, the tricky line from the black oxer to the pink upright, you got in a good way.  You were worried about him going in four strides or chipping in a fifth, and you stuck to the plan and got four.  Three, when he bucked after the final red oxer, you were ready for him and didn’t get pushed onto his neck.  Now, the negatives – one, you cut the corner into the combination which is why it was a bit of a scramble.  Two, that big jump over the final red oxer had you left behind, which is why he bucked, and three, yes, your lower leg was still unstable, but that is something we can work with.

One of the things that irritates me badly as a teacher, is if someone comes into the arena, looks around and says “Oh no, my horse absolutely won’t jump the wall”.  I often say, well then, put him back in his stable and I’ll go and have a coffee.  If you’ve decided that YOU’RE not jumping the wall, we might as well all give up already.  That cheesy old adage, if you have decided that you can, or cannot, you’re right…   If you start out negative, nothing will change.

OK, how does this have anything to do with my Facebook detox?  Social media, news media, many people at this point in time are very negative.  This is understandable in today’s situation – it’s not a great time at the moment, is it?  People are stressed about friends or family becoming ill, losing their income, sitting home alone, and, and, and…  What they say, think, or write, often reflects this negative mindset.  And, like a snowball, it grows.

I currently am restructuring my business and online courses.  I have great ideas flying through my head, all the steps that I want to take, how I want to get there, to help more people in a good way.  I’d sit down filled with good intentions and fired up, and quickly check in on emails and social media.  And enter the darkness….  One particular post annoyed me – well, it wasn’t the post, it was the feedback.  The video showed a young girl on her fabulous pony, having fun with some jumps.  Yes, there were mistakes, but it was a happy, laughing child and her gung-ho bouncy, happy pony.  You couldn’t help but smile.  And then the comments start – her hands aren‘t good enough, she shouldn’t be allowed to jump;  why is the pony in a bit, poor animal should be bitless, don’t you know bits are cruel; pony should be shod, can’t jump cross country barefoot; I’m sure the saddle doesn’t fit; ponies shouldn’t be ridden, it’s against pony rights;  OMG, how can a mother let her small child do that, doesn’t she know jumping damages the child’s spine…  On and on.  They took lighthearted fun, which the pony was invested in, and turned it negative.  There were many comments that reflected my thoughts, but if you were the mother, coach or later, the child (when she’s old enough to understand) which comments would be heard?

And, I’d close my laptop without doing any of the work to put my high flying ideas into practice.  Two days ago, I removed FB from my phone, and stopped logging in on my computer.  I missed it…  For about 30 seconds, and then had a feeling of relief.  And since then I have written four blogs, finished a powerpoint presentation and started the next, edited a bunch of long lining videos, and planned out what my membership scheme will look like, what I need to do, and how things will change.

When you have a positive experience, conversation, email, thought, your energy and mood is better and you get more done.  When it’s negative, blah.  I’m not saying that we all have to live with rainbows and unicorns.  Or that we should be using this time to write a novel and learn a new skill.  But, we don’t need to dwell in other people’s negative mindsets.  One of my favourite sayings ever is – You are not a tree, if you don’t like where you are, leave.  If you don’t like your job, find another one.  If you don’t like where you live, move.  If you don’t like a relationship, end it.  If you don’t like how sugar and Facebook make you feel, don’t go there…

A bumble down the beach is much more uplifting and positive than mind numbing scrolling through social media
A bumble down the beach is much more uplifting and positive than mind numbing scrolling through social media

If you don’t like the livery yard or riding school where you are, move.  If you don’t like the way your coach gets you riding your horse, find another coach who has the same ethic as you…  If you don’t like my blogs, don’t read them.  If you don’t like the relationship with your horse – look for the positives, what do you like?  Can you build on the good, or are you overwhelmed by the bad?  Sometimes, for the good of your horse and you, things need to change.

Mainly, in this unsettled time, be kind to your horse, be kind to other people who are also stressed, and mostly be kind to yourself – if something is stressing you, detox from it, remove it from your life, and find what makes you smile!

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