The Decision to Sell a Horse is Not Unlike a Break-up
Five Questions you need to explore in order to avoid FOBU (Fear of Breaking Up) or other guilt trips arising from decisions to quit, walk away, or move on
I have only sold three horses in my whole life of horse ownership. I worry obsessively what will happen to them outside of my care and control. Let’s face it, I acknowledge having a little problem with loss of control…but that’s for another blog post. Recently, I got wind of a horse being for sale (again) that I had raised and sold a few years ago. We parted ways at the time because this horse was too much for me, I had a few bad falls, and as a young Oldenburg, she was much too nice to be left standing around doing nothing in a field.
I knew the woman I sold the mare to had passed her on to another family. Now, here she was for sale again and the worry red flags in my brain started waving. What’s wrong now? She’s getting old so who will buy her? The owners are anxious to sell so will she end up at an auction? Even though this horse was not right for me at the time and I made the right decision, I was seized with guilt over selling her, thereby casting her fate to the winds.
What to Pack for Your “I’m a Quitter” Guilt Trip
I go on a lot of guilt trips so I know when I’m packing for one. Instead, I needed to examine and dismiss all negative thoughts of being a quitter and immediately derail second-guessing my decisions.
The anxious thoughts I experienced over the sale of this horse caused other self-recriminations to bubble to the surface of my toxic-thinking pool. I revisited thoughts of being a quitter or failure in other aspects of my life. How was deciding to tell a horse anything like other instances of “giving up”? For example, leaving behind a friendship that went sour, quitting a grad school program that was making me miserable, failing to finish a novel I’d started, never jumping a horse over a fence again, giving up on landing an agent, backing off a running regime… Any number of life’s “changes in direction” for me were labeled “failure” in my mindset. Selling a horse felt like giving up on her and me. This was wrong thinking, and it had to stop.
Quitting Does Not Equate to Failure
Quitting and failure have become linked in our cultural context. “Don’t be a Quitter!” and “Never give up!” are touted as sound advice. If you have grit, you don’t quit! Bullsh*t. That kind of thinking has caused a lot of mental anguish. Recall changes in plans, relationships, projects you’ve made and then ask yourself if you thought about them in the context of these questions/recriminations we often ask ourselves in those situations:
- What’s wrong with me?
- I didn’t try hard enough
- What will people think?
- I’ll never succeed, have a relationship (fill in the blank)
- I’m afraid to (start over, be alone, start a new job…)
Instead of asking those judgmental questions, perhaps try a few of these instead:
- What’s right with me? What is working in my life and how do I get more satisfaction, joy, and contentment back into my life?
- What is enough? If a job, relationship, hobby is making you miserable or is downright dangerous (and don’t discount stress—it can do a number on you), then it is foolish to keep pursuing it. Some people cannot be fixed. Some situations will not change. You need to walk away.
- Does what people think really matter in light of my safety, well-being, happiness, etc? You would be surprised how little people really do think about what you do. Sure, there may be some gossip at first but then something else grabs the attention and the meanies move on.
- How often has anything you predicted will never happen, never happened? Never! Red flag, whenever you tell yourself something in terms of absolutes (never, always), it is a warning that your thinking is off. Do not couch statements about yourself in absolute terms, i.e. “I’ll never run a 10K race,” or “I always quit a diet.”
- What are you afraid of? This sounds like a glib question, but looking at your fears often times dispels a lot of their power. Go back to #4 and see if you are telling yourself untruths like “I’ll always be alone” or “I’ll never get a better job.” Look at the ending of one thing as making room to start something new and fresh.
Five Final Thoughts
- Work for and achieve your own happiness—not what others want for or expect from you
- Maintain honesty with others about your feelings, concerns but stand by your decisions
- Rely on a supportive network of friends or family. Accept help from people in your corner, don’t isolate yourself
- Do not underestimate your gut feelings about a decision or second-guess yourself based on other people’s advice or opinions
- Do not settle out of fear
Leaving You With a Final, Final Thought
I’m always trying to pick up that suitcase stuffed and ready for my next guilt trip over something I’ve quit or failed at. Life is such a work in progress, but I read some very wise words lately: The biggest mistake we make in life is thinking we have more time.