Stop Giving Your Power Away to Others!

Stop Giving Your Power Away to Others!

personal power, empowerment, disempowered, co-dependent, trainers, equestrians

Are You Giving Your Power Away to Others?
(How well can you ride when you have less power?)

Are you affected by your trainer (teammates, spouse, parent, friend or child)? Maybe even feeling emotionally controlled by your trainer sometimes, either because you want to please them or you are afraid of them? Do you get upset or freeze up when they yell at you during your training? Does your riding go downhill at a show when your trainer stands there to watch you?

While it may feel that this is something the trainer is doing to you, making you feel nervous or self-conscious, the truth may be that you are allowing it to happen. You are allowing that person to affect you emotionally.

So, essentially, you are handing over your power to that trainer (or another person) on a silver platter!

My clients are all affected by their trainers to one degree or another. Some in a positive way, and some in a negative way. They either love their trainers and are motivated to perform at their best to please them (but devastated when they don’t achieve that), or they feel nervous and even scared to train or show with them if the relationship isn’t that good. This is especially true with impatient and over-demanding trainers or ones that “yell” at their students.

Either way, it seems to come down to this: the feeling of needing to please them. That’s adding pressure to your ride, and when you’re showing, that’s a distraction you don’t need to add! Performing well in the show ring is all about your focus. And where your focus goes, energy flows! We want you focused on executing the details of riding your horse.

How can we get around this issue? Assuming that we can’t change other people, places, and things, let’s think about how we can shift this problem in our own minds.

Whenever something is affecting us negatively, we need to look at the meaning we are giving to the event. So while most of my clients’ performances are negatively affected by their feelings for their trainers (even if they love their trainers, remember, it is important to please them), each one has a different reason for why that is happening. That “reason” can be found in the unique “meaning” that each person is giving to that event.

For example, take Tiffany (not her real name), who is an adult amateur owner-rider. Tiffany has several very expensive horses and goes to the “A” shows. She has a lot of respect for her trainer due to the trainer’s technical competency. The trainer is known for being honest and brilliant when it comes to matching a rider with horses. She is also considered one of the top trainers in the country, and Tiffany loves the barn because all her friends are there.

After hearing all that, I was very surprised when Tiffany wrote on her assignment journal that “My trainer hates me and I hate her.” What? Yup, and then of course, the pieces of the puzzle began to come together. Tiffany complained about riding great at home, but falling apart at the shows. What I found out is that there is an assistant trainer who works with Tiffany at home. (This is a common scenario.)

But at the shows, while in the ring, Tiffany is aware of the head trainer watching her. What was the meaning that Tiffany was giving to the head trainer watching her? “It’s like this Black Widow spider just hanging there on the rail of the ring,” she said.

Yikes! (This is what we call “demonizing people.”) No wonder she feels distracted when she’s in the show ring. And then it gets even worse! Tiffany said to me, “I just know she wants me to fail.” And then that’s pretty much what ends up happening. Because Tiffany “buys into” her own belief about the trainer wanting her to fail, she starts out doing well in the classes and then it all falls apart.

Sadly, this has happened so many times that, according to Tiffany, this has become her reputation, something that she just keeps repeating. Tiffany has now identified with her past events of repeating a pattern of failure.

She now sees herself as the rider that starts out with a lot of promise, but in the end, she can’t deliver! And she believes that her trainers see her as that as well. And since she now believes that is who she has become, she then performs that way. Why?

Remember, we will always remain consistent with who we believe ourselves to be.

Tiffany described a pattern where she gets all this negative talk in her head and then just allows it all to consume her, until she is in such a state that it has her chasing her negative feelings down the rabbit hole as described in the book, Alice in Wonderland

Tiffany’s thoughts and self-talk become more negative and “her story” becomes more bizarre, and she ends up becoming trapped in her “nightmare” of self-sabotage and failure. She is “acting as if” she is Alice, and she feels trapped in that identity which is causing automatic reactions that she believes she can’t control. 

To reverse all this, we started by working on transitioning the meaning that she is giving to the trainer. Remember that Black Widow Spider? What other, more positive meaning can we give to that trainer?

I went back over the exact words that Tiffany used to describe her trainer, and she had actually listed some wonderful qualities. Since she saw these things as “good” qualities, that means she values those qualities highly. So, she highly values being honest and competent in her job. She highly values someone having a good reputation in the industry, and also her ability to match up riders with horses.

When describing herself, Tiffany always strives to be kind. In fact, even though her trainer is sometimes rude and acts angry towards her, Tiffany still comes to the barn with a smile on her face. She said to me, “I always make it a point to be nice, no matter what. I hate it when I see people who can’t extend grace to others! When I see that, I just want to yell at them, “Have some damn grace!”

I asked her, “What is your definition of extending grace?”

She answered, “People who are centered, self-aware, confident and self-actualized should always extend understanding and compassion to others. That’s being gracious to others.”

Aha! Now I had her! So, Tiffany also highly values “being nice” and “being gracious” to others. And she highly values being self-aware, grounded, centered and self-actualized.” So this was all great stuff I could use to help Tiffany to find a new meaning to give to her trainer.

“Tiffany,” I asked, “how could you see your trainer in a positive light?” She thought about it for a while and then answered that she would see her as a damaged child! Wow, great!

I instructed Tiffany to really exaggerate that image, just like she had exaggerated her feelings to come up with a vision of the Black Widow spider. “Give the poor little girl a sweet face, then add those leg and arm braces that kids with polio and cerebral palsy have to wear! Really conjure up a vision that makes you feel compassionate towards her! Something that would make you want to embrace her.

And if you were a grounded, self-centered, and actualized person, how would you respond to your trainer’s inability to control her emotions?” I asked. She answered that she would extend to her some grace!

“Great,” I said. “So now, as you go into the ring, if those old voices and visions from the past start talking to you negatively about your trainer hanging on the rail as a Black Widow spider, I want you to talk back to her and say, ‘Have some damn grace! She’s a damaged child.’

“And of course,” I said, “you can follow that with remembering all her brilliance as a trainer; all those other qualities that you value, such as the fact that she is honest in an industry that doesn’t always value (or act upon) that AND she has achieved great skill and competence.”

This is how we use our “values” and our identities to shift, in our core, how we see ourselves and others. This is how we stop handing over our emotions and our empowerment on a silver platter to others … giving them even more power to win that silver platter at the show!

When we learn how to control our own inner world, we no longer need to stay trapped in the rabbit hole of frustrating ourselves with trying and failing to control how other people affect us.

In fact, we will no longer even listen to the voices in our head that are directing us to go run down that rabbit hole. We will be feeding our own mindset and emotional strength, riding off our own power in the show ring, instead of volunteering to hand it over and serve it to others on a silver platter!

Sidebar: The following week I read these updated notes from Tiffany. She said that to make double sure she was REALLY interrupting her emotional pattern when she saw her trainer, she painted the damaged child pink and added a pink tutu! Well … ok … that should cause a “pattern interrupt” of your negative emotional state! (Humor is always the best pattern interrupt.)

If you feel you are allowing others to affect you too much, a great book to read is Co-Dependent No More by Melody Beatty. This is a classic life saver for your emotions! It has been a best seller all over the world for over three decades.

Want to be independent and free from allowing others to affect you too strongly? Today is July 4th! It’s Independence Day! Make a decision to do whatever you need to do to finally break free and to become independent of your emotional prison!

Emotional strength and fitness is your key to independence! Create a new vision for your riding and your life. Break free from those people, places, and things that you believe are holding you back from a better rider and a better lifestyle.

Start your new life on your new bridle path today!


Nancy Dye is an equestrian breakthrough mindset coach and resilience trainer helping people to transform the quality of their lifestyles.

Nancy is certified as a strategic interventionist from the official coach training program of Tony Robbins and has over 30 years as a change agent; shifting people into peak performance. 

Nancy specializes in solving the puzzle of why people are not performing at their best and customizing the right strategy for “jumping over” adversity. She handles all areas of a rider’s lifestyle to include relationships, career, addictions, weight loss, health and transitioning through life stages.

With a past career in corporate sales and as a luxury lifestyle Realtor, Nancy has been coached by some the top high performance sales trainers in the corporate world, as well as by some of the most elite coaches in the world of sports. Nancy redesigns the inner lives of athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, and elite military and veterans.

Nancy is married to Jack Miles, a former Olympian gymnast who is inducted into four athletic Hall of Fames. For one-on-one coaching or information on her workshops or riding clinics, Nancy can be reached at


  1. Excellent article with great advice that I can apply to my life and my work relationships (your head trainer is my General Manager). These are wonderful tools, not just for equestrians. Thanks Nancy.