Along for the ride: Shutting up that voice in your head

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

I figured out how to stop the voice in my head recently and the one in my head, she can be a B*#@H – ALL CAPITALS! So, it was awesome when I figured it out!

I’m not surprised that it happened while I was on a horse…I was sitting on Bella in the warm-up pen at a show earlier this year. It was cold and rainy outside and I was preparing her to be shown. I was feeling a bit insecure because, while she is beautiful and mostly good at the reining maneuvers, she isn’t very good at spinning. There are 2 sets of spins in each reining pattern, so at least ¼ of your score is basically on your spins. It was also my first show on her in California since we bought her, so I was allowing myself to feel the pressure of that. Also, at the first show in Oklahoma, there were a couple of “issues” that popped up with her. So, I was trying to not do too much that the issues arose again, but I had to do enough to get her shown. So, I had a lot of emotions swirling around. As Brene Brown says, we judge in places where we feel vulnerable so that we can prove that we are doing better than someone else in that area. So, that bitchy voice in my head started in, judging. Doing a really good job at it too I might add.

As you might or might not know, Warwick has had a bit of a learning year full of epiphanies! He has started meditating and doing yoga. I have joined him in some of the meditation. Yoga isn’t an option because there are too many poses that require lying flat or putting my head in positions that I won’t do because of the potential for vertigo. (I do some modified pilates so I am getting some good stuff in!).

He also shares information from the books he is reading/listening too and I listen to some of them (I do listen to authors/podcasts other than Brene Brown.) Somewhere I heard about the voice in our heads and how usually it talks negatively. I was happy to hear that, because, as I said, mine can be pretty nasty. Luckily, or maybe unluckily, my voice usually says the negative things about me. But, she can be pretty judgy about others too.

I’m good at judging and without really realizing it, have used it to my benefit. Being in Human Resources, I had to judge people and situations every minute of every workday. Then I took that even further and decided to be a reining judge and teach others how to be reining judges. I was good at it, but it was exhausting! It’s been a relief to participate in neither of those occupations anymore – I do feel a lot better when I can simply believe that people are doing the best they can. It hasn’t completely changed the voice in my head, but it has helped.

I’m sure you are curious as to how I got that voice to stop, right? You will not believe me – it was so simple. I was sitting in the warm-up pen, and not wanting to allow the anxiety to get the best of me, I started to do my tactical breathing. I breathed and I focused on my breathing and I realized how silent it was. The bi#$% was gone! I was so happy that I gave a little giggle out loud.

I knew that the tactical breathing worked for the anxiety, but what I realized that day in the warm-up pen, is that it silenced that ever-present voice too! Now I find that I can shut her up anytime I am mentally present, (in the moment, mindful.) When left to her own devices, she is still a bit of a tricky character.   I try all the logical things, like throwing myself into work, having a beer, going to the gym, listening to music and so far, the thing that has worked the best is the breathing or listening to guided meditations on

For now, I’ll accept this as progress, although I’m still a huge work in progress. I just wanted to share the epiphany I had about shutting “her” up – so that maybe it will help someone else out there.

Thanks for reading – I know it wasn’t really horse related, but too good not to share.






9 thoughts on “Along for the ride: Shutting up that voice in your head

  1. Thank you Robyn,
    I too have become more aware as I’m now approaching 57,that the voice has a huge influence over me, and it needs attention.
    OH my..,in the background video Warrick is speaking in Pomona equine expo About this “anxiety”!
    (I was reading your blog while this was on you tube. )

    My father being the head ER dude taught me through yoga,meditation,Walking Garden to help myself. I’m not I am Alive and breathing! ~ it’s been what made me a formidable athlete as a youngster ,but as Ive grown older,it’s turned BAD.. So He can help me with the horse part. For me.. Im going to check in often -:) Leslie Northern Ca

  2. I love your blogs. I’d love to hear more specifics on your tactile breathing if you haven’t shared it previously. I do think it’s horse related, anything that can help reverse anxiety is HUGE!

    1. Tactical breathing is simple! I’m sure it has other names, but all I do is breathe in to a count of 5 and breathe out to a count of 5 and I focus on the breath and counting and nothing else. That’s pretty much it. I practiced this when I was completely relaxed and then I thought of something that was a little upsetting and did it again (so basically I’m doing the Don’t Go To Bed Angry stuff) and again and again. When I was good at that, I got myself a little more anxious and practiced the breathing. Pretty soon, I got myself out of a couple good panic attacks by just breathing this way. Now, when I get anxious or want to shut that voice up, I do it.

  3. Thank you Robyn, Really helpful and relevant posts to pop up just now when I really need them That itty bitty bitch has been getting too persistent lately and really messing me up with achieving any thing really effectively. My wonderful husband of nearly 49years has been diagnosed with cancer and whilst he awesome and positive (and still healthy!) my silly brain runs stupid. Headspace pulls me back into gear during the night, but during the day I need to be able to focus more effectively and your comments help to reinforce what steps to work on.

  4. Not a Horse related blog?!?
    Actually, it is one of the best, as the horse under us licks and chews when the B#@?1 is silenced. Thanks. The struggles you have, getting through them, have awakened the epiphany course for WS. He should give you a big thanks, and a diamond pendant, as well…..

  5. My internal voice is not so much judging myself as questioning myself, am I doing this the right way etc. especially with the work I am doing with my new OTTB. I am trying to follow the STTDP and am very new at it. When I am working with my mare and thinking , am I doing this right, I will use the breathing you recommend to help me out of the questioning head space. I think over all I need to not only be patient with my horse but be patient with myself. We are both learning at the same time! Thank you for the blog, I feel like I am in a community and it is very helpful in this journey.

    Note to self…check out!

  6. I love your take on things. I am an anxious MOFO and it absolutely impedes and applies to how I am with horses. After all, they so easily pick up what we’re putting down, even when we don’t know we’re putting it down. The more tools we have in our mental toolbox, the better people we are. And the better people we are, the better horse people we are. Or at least that’s what I think. Again, thanks for blogging about your anxiety and all it’s ups and downs. It’s wonderful to know that one can have anxiety and still be successful with horses. 🙂

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