Don’t Trust Easily

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Dear Sally
Weekly Advice Straight From The Horse’s Mouth.

Dear Sally,

I want to have deeper relationships with people at work but I don’t know where to start. I don’t really trust others easily. I know in my heart that I need more friendship and support with co-workers and I like “the idea” of colleagues who really know me. But it just doesn’t feel safe. I am so torn. Now that I started thinking about this, I can’t stop. I’m obsessing. But I can’t seem to resolve how scary it is to start reaching out to people in a new way. I feel so stuck.

Dear Don’t Trust Easily,

I’m so glad I stopped munching on grass for this one. This is such an important topic! You are not alone! All mammals struggle with trust and it’s in the best interest of our survival to assess for safety, to decide who is friend and who is foe. Horses have to do this or we will get eaten. That’s obviously pretty extreme. But this plays out in the herd in other ways. For instance, my herd is super mellow and no drama. We play and frolic but no rough-housing. We’re really respectful of one another. As a result, we rarely get hurt, we share space, we groom each other, nap together. It’s really pretty awesome! But you need to understand that we built this. We had to create it. And it took some risks, some leaps of faith, experiments, feedback, and conversation (horse-style chatting with our bodies). And, it took time. When a new horse enters a herd dynamic, a lot of assessment occurs. The new horse is figuring out the personalities and relationships. He is sizing up how he might best fit in given who he is. The other horses are doing the same. And we are all nervous! We are scared! Change is hard for mammals. So in that process, we ask for a lot of space and time. When Levi arrived to our herd, it took about 4 weeks before we felt comfortable sharing the shade under the tree for afternoon nap time. We just didn’t know him! So we gave him a lot of feedback about keeping some space there while we got to know him. Each day, we let him come about two feet closer and we experimented with how that felt. Every time he got closer, we all had to take the risk. Here’s the thing: the risk is inherent. With someone we don’t know, there’s no real way to have a guarantee we won’t get hurt. So we hold onto our own personal leadership and self care. And we focus on trusting ourselves. I stay awake and alert and paying attention. I ask to take it slow. I remind myself that I have four strong legs and a good mind. I have a kind heart and I will always take good care of myself. That helps me feel more courageous and more willing to try new things and meet new mammals. Just last month I got to make friends with a miniature horse named Princess Pony. She’s darling. But I’ll tell ya! I’d never seen anything like her before and, at first, I wasn’t even sure she was a horse. My whole herd was upset for two weeks until we figured her out and she understood how we roll. Now, we’re all getting along great. But it was an uncertain time. I hope you can dig deep and find a little bit of cowgirl inside you. Kick up some dirt and feel the power in those boots. Hold your head high and tell yourself that you’re going to be okay no matter what. I think you guys call this resilience. It grows and gets stronger with as much brave living as you can muster. You can do this…..

Love, Sally

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