Difficult situations such as the corona crisis and the increase in the overall speed of change sometimes lead to unintended learning experiences or to the loss of something to which we are accustomed.
Dealing with loss is often difficult. A loss can come in many different forms: Loss of a position in the company in change projects, loss of health or of a job. And uncertainty is, in other words, the loss of certainty.
When dealing with loss of any kind, people go through different phases: From first ignoring the situation,
anger and inability to act, to acceptance and conscious acceptance and shaping of the new situation (theoretical models e.g. E. Kübler-Ross; R.K. Streich). The process is very individual and
nonlinear. Therefore, one sometimes jumps back into a previous phase.
We are then either busy mourning very intensively what we have lost. Or we distract ourselves from these negative feelings, thoughts or fears and either consciously seek distraction or concentrate on positive things that are happening. So we always switch back and forth between these two behaviors. Although this does not make the feeling of loss disappear and the situation itself does not change, we do expand our experience. In relation to this expanded experience a loss feels smaller.
What is the impact for us as humans, managers or for companies? Loss needs to be recognized just as much as the positive things that happen. We should acknowledge that we are in one phase or another and thus understand our own behavior and that of others and no longer regard the behavior of others as a personal attack.
In my opinion there are three main competencies or recommendations that can help when dealing with uncertainty or loss.
1. Stay in the present moment
Concentrate on what is and what you have in the present moment. Try to keep or regain self-efficacy by acting
on those things you can control. That might, for example, be structuring your day in the home-office as much as possible.
2. Reflect and take a rest
Make a conscious choice when to rest and when to act. When reflecting on the current situation, don’t
disregard your feelings. Regard them as information. And before trying to regulate them it’s important to recognize, label and express them to the extent that is possible in the given
3. Keep moving by trying new things
Leave your comfort zone once in a while by taking small steps. Overall, a similar principle applies as in endurance training: Systematic training consists of peaks of highest intensity, followed by periods of rest and recovery. And if? there was no time for training? Be courageous and allow yourself and others to fail.
And how do the horses fit in?
The present moment: In the interaction with horses during horse assisted trainings, people learn to focus on the given moment, the actual task. When you are not focused on what you are doing while, for example, leading a horse, some horses won’t go anywhere, they just stop and wait for you to take the lead again. Depending on the horses’ personality others will drag you everywhere by taking the lead themselves.
Reflection and emotions: Horses value emotions as information – without any judgment. And they love people who are congruent from the inside-out. That doesn’t mean you have to suppress your emotions. Quite the contrary! Because the best part of the story is: Horses will always sense your emotions and react to them. That’s part of their nature as prey animals who are closely connected to their survival instincts.
In the work with the horses we inspire people to re-connect to their emotions and to learn anew how to use them as information when necessary.
Leave the comfort zone: When being with a horse for the first time, most people are far out of their comfort zone. People who exceed the limits of their comfort zone create the opportunity to learn and expand it. Learning can best take place if we do not venture too far outside our comfort zone and thus do not expose ourselves to extreme situations. And that’s what horses and horse assisted education is good at. We guide people through a deep learning experience step by step by considering individual topics and pace when learning something new. Focus on the experience and not on the question of whether things are right or wrong.
What are your experiences with uncertainty and loss? And might a day with the horses be just what you/your team needs?
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