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A Damsel in Distress!

A Damsel in Distress!

Posted by Vickie Close on Jan 21st 2024

My mother had a name for it. She called them damsels in distress. You could spot one miles away in the horse world. They were as common as the cold, with much the same symptoms. They made your headache and gave you a queasy little feeling. When I was a younger girl, they would show up at the ranch, or you would see them at the auction acting as if they had no sense at all. Most never really recovered. It was confusing to see a person that you knew had it together, acting so helpless. My mother explained, at best, all they're capable enough. They just want to be rescued. It didn't take long to understand it well and to see them coming. Now I'm 40 plus years older and I've gone to the dogs. On occasion, though, I see it again. And it still gives me that same old queasy feeling. Here's what I wish I could have said back then. When we approached learning from the damsel in distress mindset, which looks like help, I can't do anything right! We diminish our own power. We all need help and actually feel helpless at some point in our learning. But when this becomes our M.O., we start to identify as weak. It is very hard to get out of this mindset, and it's very dangerous because it does get us the attention and the help that we so badly need, but eventually it traps us and limits our very own progress. On the flip side, when you approach learning from the know it all point of view, you actually diminish your instructors power. In a way, this is worse. You know the type, they already know it all, they've done it all, and they've thought of it first. We can all be guilty of this. Me included. Maybe it's an overcompensation for never wanting to be the former. Realizing that we don't have to be perfect helps, and understanding just how hard it is to teach someone that already knows it all, helps more. Instead of putting yourself in a position of learning and growing, you inadvertently set up a useless power struggle between you and your instructor. What should we do instead? Understand that teaching and learning is a flow of giving and receiving information. It runs just like a river. You want this progress to flow smoothly? Yes, the water can get rough at times, but nothing puts a dam up and stops the flow of giving and receiving like somebody that already knows it all, or somebody that stays helpless, realizing that learning is a two way street, and fully understanding that you play the most important role in receiving the help that you need is imperative. In other words, if you want the milk, don't kick the cow. Likewise, if you're hungry to learn, don't sit on the milking stool with your hands in your pocket crying that your hungry, the cow is usually happy to provide, provided you do your part. But here's the silver lining in this damsel in distress story. The one that's coming to save you is you! It's a good life. Farm diggity.