MBF Q&A: Horses as Self-Help

This is interesting: one of the main things I learned in 12-step, and one of the first things I learned as a horsewoman was not to force solutions. Here, I talk about how self-help and the programme worked out for me in the end — largely once I realised that I couldn’t make them work…

You initially struggled to find solutions in self-help books and at 12-step meetings. What didn’t work about these approaches? What finally did? Do you still depend on either today?

The primary thing that didn’t work was not the fault of the books, nor the early meetings I attended, but my perception of them. I wanted every book I read to be the last, to be the one with the answers, to be the one that would sort out all my problems if I dutifully did the activities and journaled sufficiently. Small changes would be made, but they weren’t comprehensive enough, so back to the bookshop I would go.

Then, I went to 12-step meetings, desperately wanting someone to tell me how to make the addict in my life stop being addicted. Only when I realized I had to keep the focus on myself, on my own behavior and my own addiction to control and perfection did the program start to work for me. Or rather, I started to work the program!

Just another Dublin Horse Show as seen from the press box.

Ultimately, what worked for me in the end was the culmination of all the knowledge I gained and the efforts I made on my own behalf, of the activity sheets and the affirmations and the daily inspiration guides, of the steps and the slogans and the meetings until I decided I had done enough—that I was enough. The wisdom of those books and of the rooms is with me every day. I’ve taken what I liked, and left the rest.

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