Of course, your eyes, ears, and brain tell you a lot about a person. And when you know a lot about a person it is easy to begin to make assumptions. But the view from the outside of a person is not always the view from the inside. Be careful when considering the status and needs of a child, or any person, that your assumptions do not overwhelm your capacity to detect quiet truths.
It is easy to take things at face value. Kids come home at the end of the day and are ask “how was your day?” They answer “fine” and are never asked for more information. Everyone is surprised when it is discovered that this child has been the focus of bullying.
When we chat with the neighbor she smiles and says she’s great. Only later do we find out her husband has been diagnosed with cancer…your sweetheart says things are ‘ok’ at work, when they are talking about downsizing and he/she is actually worried about losing their job.
We all know people like this. It’s easy to accept the the words offered. But too often people are not comfortable sharing how the really feel. This happens for a variety of reasons. They don’t think there is anything that can be done to change things. They are embarrassed or don’t want to worry you. It’s a tough call on when to ask ‘are you sure?’However, it is a disservice to everyone to always accept the easy words.
As a client grooms their horse we ask “how was your week?” They may tell us that everything was ‘great,’ but we note that the horses continues to move away from the client, so we ask “can you tell me about something good that happened this week?” Or maybe we ask specifically how things were at home or in a situation we know that the client struggles with. The act of grooming often slowly helps the client release all the reasons for not sharing and suddenly they are opening up “yeah, my mom’s not doing so well and I’m worried about her” or “I feel like I can’t do anything right!” As the client begins to really share, the horse becomes more relaxed – horses worry when people’s actions don’t match their emotional energy – the horse wonders what the predator is hiding and why.
This is just one way that horses help us in our work with our clients. Often our job is to help our learn to be honest with themselves and others. We help them accept their feelings and find ways to express them to others in a healthy, productive and appropriate way.
Researchers find strong agreement among parents, teachers, and friends when rating a child’s behavior, happiness, and satisfaction. However, that rating significantly differs from the student’s self-perception 31% of the time. Tyagi and Kaur 2001