Along for the ride – the Anxiety Equation

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 Internationally competitive rider.

After my first Facebook Live, I have had a lot of people comment about “the Equation” I mentioned.  It’s not mine, it’s something I learned from Jane Pike (Confident Rider).  In case you missed it – here we go:

All states/emotions have 3 variables to them that make them exist.  They are made up of:

  1. Your Focus
  2. Your Self-Talk
  3. Your Physiology

So, the EQUATION part is that all of these things need to all be in existence for that emotion to exist…so 1+1+1 = 3 (the equation).  You could also think of it like a triangle and that all 3 are the legs of the triangle, if that works better for you.

For Anxiety to exist, your focus has to be on something that is giving you the anxious feeling, your self-talk is going to be telling you how anxious you are and your physiology is usually going to come along for the ride and you will have a rapid or strong heartbeat, maybe some sweating, maybe some butterflies in your tummy.

The beauty of the Equation is that if you are able to just control 1 of those variables and change it – the anxiety equation is broken – it no longer exists.  If you change one, then the equation becomes 1+1 so it no longer equals 3 (which is what it has to equal to be Anxiety).  So, if you are envisioning a triangle, if you take away one of those legs, it is no longer a triangle, it’s just lines.

Here are some of the ways that I have been able to break the anxiety equation (I know why these things worked after I heard Jane explain the equation):

  1. Focus – I thought about something else. So, in a horse show situation, every time I thought about my pattern or going into the arena, I shifted my thoughts to something else like what I was going to have for dinner that night or pictured myself sitting on the beach in Kauai. Right before walking into the arena, I’d count the conchos on my headstall and not about going in to show my horse. A couple years ago, in the midst of an anxiety attack at work (ugggg) I had someone tell me to try and look around and look for colors – I see a green tree, a blue bucket, an orange ball.  Just a distraction, but it takes your focus off of “I’m going to die”.  It worked a little bit for me, but I was pretty deeply under the control of the anxiety at that point.
  2. Self-Talk – I told myself it was excitement and not anxiety – they both have the same physiology (Jane told me this recently)!
  3. Physiology – I have used breathwork with the most success – Jane teaches amazing techniques and my favorite has a name I can’t remember, but I call it the “breathe on the mirror” breath. Going for a walk works too and even though it is counter to what you think you should do when your heart is already beating out of your chest, exercise is good.  I had doctors recommend this years ago and it always felt so counter to what I was feeling that I rarely used it.  For me, the breathwork takes care of the other 2 variables as well, so I tend to do this.

After writing this down, I see I have some work to do on #2 because I could not think of many examples and I realize that I usually used either 1 or 3 to break the equation in the past.

I asked Jane afterwards if this works with any emotion and reckons that it does.  So for anger, fear, resentment, etc. it can work as well…just change one of the variables and the equation no longer adds up to whatever it is you are feeling.

I hope that I have done a good enough job explaining this that it may help you if you need it!  If not, head over to Confident Rider/Jane Pike and learn from the master – she is a life changer!

Thanks for reading.