Podcast Episode 1: Overcoming Fear - Deletions, Distortions and Generalisations

In our very first podcast episode, Natasha shares with you some tools and techniques, looking at a new way of experiencing your world, specifically aimed at horse riders of all disciplines (but it can also be applied to any area of your life), so you can experience your horse riding in a dramatically different way, and start to notice why you are fearful, anxious, worried or having any negative emotional reaction to whatever is going on in your life and in your horse riding, and how you can change it to become confident, happy and ready to take your horse riding and your life to the next level.

If you have any suggestions for future podcast content, people you would like Natasha to interview or if you are an equestrian that loves our message and would be interested in being interviewed, contact the team at support@yourridingsuccess.com 

Loving Natasha's message and wanting more? Check out our free web class on overcoming fear by CLICKING HERE.

Full Transcript Expand to full transcript

(00:00): Today, I want to share with you a way of looking at how you experience your world, so you can experience your riding in a dramatically different way and start to notice why you're fearful, anxious, worried, or having any negative emotional reaction to whatever's going on in your life and in your riding and how you can change it.

Welcome to the Your Riding Success podcast. My name is Natasha Althoff and I'm a Grand Prix dressage writer from Australia, author of three books and a leading online trainer of riders all around the world wanting to take their riding to the next level.

I'm also a chocoholic, mother of two amazing children, and obsessed with helping riders be all they can be. Each week I'm going to bringing you stories of inspiration, ideas, and strategies of how to make real progress in your riding and give you actionable advice on overcoming riding fear and anxiety so you can take a riding to the next level and be the rider you dream to be.

(00:54): So let's get into today's episode. As always, let's start with what we're grateful for, what we're positive about what we're happy about?

What is one good thing that's happened to you in the last 24 hours?

I thought today we should talk about fear. So let's talk a little bit about why we have fear.

I'd love for you guys to think about that.

Why do we have fear?

Why is fear something that is present?

Just think about that.

Why would we have that as an instinct or have that as an emotion?

What would be the use of that?

So when you think about it, fear is very useful. If I'm standing on top of a building and going, woo, maybe I should jump. Maybe I should just look over there. Maybe I should be a bit careless about where I put my feet.

(01:40): No - my fear instinct kicks in and tells me to be very careful, to probably back away from the tall building and get somewhere safer and preserve my life. Okay. That is what the fear instinct is there to do. Preserve life. The fear instinct is very quick to judge. I don't like fear. It's very quick to judge. I don't like people that are judgmental, but fear is very judgmental. So normally if one thing bad, if like one bad thing happens, the fear instinct goes well, that's real. Like that’s just what happens.

So think about when you were child and depending on your parental controls, they either said, don't touch that, don't touch fire, don't touch fire. It's hot, it's hot. But most likely all of us went to the stove or went to the fire and went, Oh yeah, that's really hot. Now think about how many times did you have to go - “Let me just check. Is it really hot?” and burn yourself again, I wonder if it's not hot this time. Let me check and burn myself again. None of us do that because once we have a bad experience or once we have an understanding of that something hurts or something is bad or something is not desirable or a bad thing can happen, brain goes, yet avoid that.
So we avoid fire or we avoid touching the stove because we know what happened last time we touched a stove and we don't just go with that stove. We generalize. It's every stove now and this metaphor, are you understanding why you might have FP a problem? If you fall off a horse, you'll brain goes, you can fall off a horse and get hurt. So if you fall off a horse once and get hurt, your brain now goes, that's now reality.

(03:33): That now just happens every time. And sometimes it can even say, and it's not just that stove, it's not just that horse, it's every horse. And so this is our instinct. Everyone can agree that they've already done it. They've learnt this around the stove or around fire or around, um, you know, certain things. And this was useful. Think about when we were in caves. We didn't like go pat the sabre tooth tiger and our friend got eaten and we go, Oh, that just happened to Bob. Bad things always happen to Bob. I'm sure it's okay if I go pat the saber tooth tiger. We didn't, we just generalized sabre tooth tigers kill people. Stay away. We didn't need to lose hundreds and thousands of humans in our cave and in our clan to realize, Hmm, maybe we should avoid the sabre tooth tiger.

(04:22): It only had to happen once. And we avoided it when Mary went to go and eat the purple berry that killed her. We didn't go, Oh, well Mary must just have a weird digestive system. Let's just keep eating the purple berries. We went, yeah, that, that, that new purple berry, not so good. Let's stay away from the purple berry. So these instinct has kept us alive. It's why you're here. You are a descendant of this generation of 10,000 years ago that actually survived.

You wouldn't be here if you were like, I'm just going to eat those purple berries and your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather died eating the purple berries so he couldn't pass on the genes to you. Um, to now live in the 21st century going, Oh yeah, that just happened once. So I'm going to be okay with that.

(05:10): So this is where the understanding of how your brain works and how to teach it something new. It's so, so, so, so important. I've talked to a couple of times now about generalizations, so your brains are getting 2 million bits of information at any one time.

As you're hearing me speak, you're also feeling the sensation of the socks on your feet. You're feeling the sensation of the clothes on your back. You might be hearing the noise of birds or typewriter keys or music playing in the background. You might be thinking your own thoughts as you're hearing me speak. You might be having reactions in your own inner dialogue of what I'm talking about and what I'm saying.

So there's a lot going on and we'd go a little bit cuckoo. Crazy if we were focusing, if I was like, yeah, yeah, I'm wearing clothes and I'm hearing this and I'm sensing this and I'm thinking this… It's an overload on our senses. So our brain goes very nicely where you can't, you're smart, but you're not that smart. You can't possibly process and deal with 2 million bits of information at any one time. So I'm going to cut that down to seven plus or minus two chunks of information.

So this is where I love it because when people go, this is what happened, or this is the truth, or this is the absolute reality of the situation. I just laughed my head off because it's not true. It's your version. It is not the reality. It is impossible to experience reality, which gets me super excited. Cause if it's impossible to experience reality, we all live delusions.

(06:46): And if it's, if we're all living delusions believing that they are reality, I therefore can choose my delusion and I can choose what I filter in and what I filter out. I've gone deep really quick, really early. How are you guys going? Um, so anyway, back to this 2 million bits of information can experience reality. We're all delusional. So how do, how does our brain figure out which seven chunks to give us?

It's based on our value system. Our belief systems, our masculine feminine energy, our values, previous events, which normally then shape our beliefs and all of those, it's like a sieve with a filter system and out spits out the seven plus or minus two chunks and everything else is either deleted, distorted, or generalized.

So a generalisation is “all stoves burn me” the generalization - you have not experienced every stove in the world. So it's actually false fear to say stoves burn me because you don't know. But, you hadn't experienced with a stove. It gave you that reaction. So you just generalize. Stoves burn, I'm going to stay away and it's a good thing. Does anyone ever get to a door and they're going up to the door and they, they see a door handle and they freak out They go “oh my God it’s a door handle. I didn't know what to do. I don't know what to do about this. Do I pull, do I give? Do I? I didn't know what to do. I didn't know today what should I do?”

(08:19): No, we've experienced a door handle before. We know what to do with the door handle. So all we do when we see a new door, because we see new doors all the time and whoever does this - like I get sometimes confused with the push and the pull and I'm just pulling, when it says push - they are both “p”words. Maybe it's just a me thing. I'll just, I'll just live in my deluded world that it’s an everybody thing, when actually it’s a me thing.

But anyway, we were at the door and we, we don't stress, we don't freak out. We just assume, generalize the door will like most doors and we push the handle down and we pull it towards us or we push it away from us, whichever one - but we don't freak out. So a generalization is very useful when it comes to getting through the world and getting through what we need to get through.

(09:09): But it's not so helpful when we generalize that in the wind all horses play up, or all young horses do crazy things, or all chestnut mares are bad, or whatever it is that we generalize in the horse world. So I am very very particular when it comes to my generalizations in the horse world, because it's not okay normally to generalize here.

So you've got to become like a decoder of information and go and seek, you know, that new reality. Yeah. That's, that's the generalization.

The next point is the deletion, who's ever been, um, hanging out with their partner. And maybe you've gone to a party or you're listening to the radio and… let's say you were at a party and you meet this guy and you're like, Bob's, you like to do Bob's boring. You don’t like Bob.

And you leave the party and your partner’s like, wasn't Bob amazing? And you're like, really? I didn't think he was. Yeah. Isn’t he amazing, and he rides a motorbike and he's done the blah blah trial twice. And um, he, uh, rode a bike from the West coast to the East coast. And I just think it's amazing. And, um, I can't believe he's done that and he's really, really cool.

And you're like, Oh, I didn't even really hear that he did that because your brain deletes all things motorcycle, not important to you, but maybe it's really important to your partner. So he hung on every word and he didn't delete any of the conversation because his RAS, the hook in the back of his brain said, this information is important to him, therefore I need to hear it. It's the same when we, um, you know, recite back to our husband everything about the horse world everything that we heard, you know, we might take our partner to Equitana or to a horse competition. And we're like, wasn't it amazing when this happened? Or when this was said, and they're like, Oh, I don't remember that. I didn't hear that.

Now what's the reality?

Was it said or not?

Of course it was, but his RAS says, Oh, it's horse. Delete, delete, delete, delete. It's not important.

Yeah, I love it. I love uncovering, I'm a real discoverer. I love hanging out with Phil or hanging out with other people in my life that are very different to me because they give me a whole different of version of reality over the experience or of a new thing. So obviously there's a lot going on in the news right now. We all have an opinion on that. So therefore, when we hear the news, we're going to filter in more of the news that, that agrees with already our preconceived preconception of what the reality of the situation is.

(11:50): So if you're fearful right now, if you're worried right now and your believing that this is a horrible thing that could, and I'm not, I'm not saying that that's wrong, but if you believing that this is all this, you know, it's bad and it's wrong and it's horrible and it's, it's, you know, Armageddon and it's coming.

When you listen to the news, you're gonna pick up the death rates, you're going to pick up the, the how many people have it. You're going to pick up all the worst parts.

Whereas if I'm coming with a filter of um, wow, this is really, um, uh, an amazing time in history, what an opportunity to pull together as a community and as a, as a world unit. What um, an amazing, uh, time to show love and gratitude to the people that help us and look after us in terms of, uh, the truck drivers and the medical teams and all these people that help us get food and, and health care.

(12:45): And I listened to the news, I'm going to pick up the stat, all of who helped someone and who's done amazing things and what good things are happening out there. The reality is there is some horribly bad, shockingly scary things happening out there and there's amazing, beautiful, wonderful lifting up things that are happening out there and they're both happening at the same time.

And your job is to make sure that you're trying to keep your filter system as open as possible to get that in. And like I said, we are master deleters. So if anyone ever says this is what happened, you know, that's why I find the court system and the jury system fascinating because they're trying to uncover the deletions.

But when you don't think it's a deletion, when you just think it's the reality, it's a bit complicated. So think about in your riding, what do you, so we talked about the generalizations.

(13:40): What are some deletions that you're doing, you know, deleting when your horse was good and only remembering when your horse was naughty. Deleting when your coach said good job and only remembering when she berated you for not bringing your shoulders back.

What are you deleting when um, all the rides you've done in the wind and the horse has being fine. Normally I find with people that have fear they have deleted a lot of the good stuff. Just try that on for a second.
If I actually thought about what I could do rather than what I couldn't, how would everything in my life change, which is why I really dig what I do.

And I love helping people in my fearless program because I don't just help them. And when someone asks me for ABC, I give them the alphabet. That's my duty. That's my job.

(14:24): So when people come into FearLESS mastery, I think I'm just going to help them overcome their fear and riding. No - I’m going to help you change your relationship with yourself and with fear in every single part of your brain and in every single part of your life.

So you can go and live a full life and rock and frickin roll because that's what we're here to do.

Cool cool cool - so, I've talked about generalizations. I've talked about deletions and now I need to talk about distortions and you're going distortions - I don’t distort reality. I just experience reality. No, you distort it all the time.

Who's ever had a bowl of ice cream and then their husband said, how much ice cream did you have? And you got this much when it was this much?

Who has ever ridden their horse. And maybe they're a little bit fearful or a little bit anxious when they're riding and their horse does a little pig root and you say, my horse bucked or their horse does like little mini rear and then they go, my horse reared or my horse bolted all my hole bolted. But did they bolt or did they just go in extended canter?

(15:33): Okay. So, um, and how is this a problem? Well, again, distortion helped our brains learn quicker. So, um, when things were bad, they were really bad and when things were good, they were really good.

It doesn't work so well in relationships. You know, when we distort the good feelings and the good endorphins and the good things that are happening, we're really, he's not, he's not the right guy for you.

That's a whole other story, whole other thing. But when it comes to our riding, you need to get clear on what your distortions are, who's ever ridden through a test and distorted how badly the test is going. And then that influences you and makes you ride the test even worse and worse as you go through it. But when you get out, but if your whoever's around goes, actually didn't look that bad.

(16:19): Okay. So it's very important. That's why I ride with mirrors. I don't know what the reality is. Let's have a look. But then obviously even my reality of the… so we can distort the feeling we get - Oh, we felt like the buck was huge. Or we felt that the rear was huge or we, um, uh, actually even see it and we see it as bigger as what it was. Cause you haven't realized, you haven't learned how your brain works. No one teaches this in schools. I don't know why. Um, so that's why it's my duty to teach you. That's what I'm going live every day to help you and to teach you and to help you, you know, understand what your it is that you're doing. And that's why you might be experiencing a reality of fear in your riding or anxiety when you do something or pain or sadness or depression or anger or worriedness, all of these emotions you get -emotions don't just arrive. I know you think they do. God, I'm going deep.

I know you think the emotion just arrived magically, but it didn't. The emotion came because of something you thought, Oh, I know it's deep. I'm not a psychologist. I'm not really into psychology. This is pure, just NLP is all based around, um, methodology, a success framework. So, um, I just do what works and believe in my deluded world.
Really. Okay. Beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful. I love it. So I trust that has helped today.

I don't know even know how we got onto deleting, distorting, generalizing. Because I told you 2 million bits of information come at you and therefore the reality, your experience is your seven plus or minus chunks, seven plus or minus two chunks of information and that seven plus or minus two chunks of information, what those seven chunks are is determined by what you deleted, what you distorted and what you generalized and what you deleted distorted and generalized is influenced by your beliefs, by your values, by your past events, by your masculine, feminine energy, by your experience in time and space, all these kinds of cool stuff.

As always, please share any, anything you would like me to talk about, anything you would like me to share. I'm an open book. I'm here to help you and I'm here to help us all get through this.

I hope you enjoy today's episode. I had so much fun at bringing it to you and for you.