Do You Fancy Yourself As a Workhorse or As a Racehorse?

I’m so excited that dear friend and colleague Geraldine Sweetman has graced our blog with a dynamite guest post. Her workhorse/racehorse analogy has invaded my mind at many levels (particularly when thinking about the things we eat, and pondering the distinction between working and excelling). You’ll understand what I mean once you’ve read her words. Jump in, and enjoy! -Deborah

Gerry Sweetman Pic

When I was growing up in Dublin, Ireland, I would see horses on the street, as many of the deliveries to the house were brought by horse and cart. Bread came from Johnston Mooney and O’Brien in a large wooden covered cart drawn by a strong, patient workhorse. He would stand there through all kinds of weather and temperatures, waiting to be instructed: when to stand, when to pull the cart to the next house. Finally, the deliveries all completed, horse and cart would return to the depot, where the horse would be released out to a field, lucky if he got some hay thrown on the ground or swung off a post in a net on a good day, water provided by an open standing trough. Dusty, dirty, sweaty, there he would stay until called upon once more, to be hitched to the wagon and begin the rounds.

Now let us examine how the day in the life of a racehorse might proceed.

Morning exercise sessions: the horse thoroughly checked for fitness and any potential area of weakness or problem….pulled muscle, tender hoof. The trainer clears the horse for exercise, instructing the jockey what maneuvers and speeds are desired for this exercise period. After exercise, analysis of the horse’s performance is then discussed by jockey and trainer. The racehorse will then be rubbed down and thoroughly groomed. If the temperature is deemed a tad chilly, a blanket will be provided. Discussion will then take place as to how the feed should be….what proportion of oats, wheat and other grains is deemed optimum for the top performance of this mighty animal. Fresh straw or sawdust bedding and fresh water is supplied. This is a racehorse, not a workhorse. All involved in his care are focused on his top condition, optimum functioning.

Why the differences? The function of the carthorse is to work; the function of the racehorse is to excel, to win.

How Does Your Day Go?

Do you anticipate that you will operate at peak performance throughout your day? Or, do you slog through it, just waiting to fall exhausted into your “field” when it is all over, knowing you will get up and do it all over again tomorrow? Alan Downs, in “The Velvet Rage”, tells us, “many of our fathers grew up in a culture that offered them power in exchange for stoicism and buried emotion” (p.14). A perfect description of a workhorse, I suggest, albeit dressed in a fine suit, but still a workhorse. And all that stoicism and buried emotion? It pertains to the mothers also.

Are we beginning to grasp that everything is inter-connected, on a micro level and a macro level? If our desire is to excel, to operate at our peak, then our self-care requires that we tend to all areas of our being….physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. All connected. Our diet, our relationships, the health and strength of our bodies, our relationship to our community; all these factors impact our well-being.

If I wish to be a racehorse, I see this as an invitation, a challenge to operate out of my higher self. Taking responsibility for choices and understanding their consequences equals understanding my potential when I operate from my evolved self. The challenge comes as we are then required to declare ourselves (“yes” to this, “no” to that). We have to become our own trainer, our own jockey, standing by our own rules, our own decisions. No longer does it work to say “I didn’t know”, “I didn’t mean”, “it’s not my fault”. It becomes clear for me, if I ask myself: “Do I see myself as workhorse or racehorse?”

Gerry Sweetman is what Helen Fisher calls “an explorer”. She loves to learn new things and have adventures. She believes that each of us deserves many chapters in our lives. Gerry currently works as a psychotherapist in the Flatiron District and is challenging herself to expand her writing skills.

Gerry Sweetman

(718) 408.2505