Impulse vs. Reason – the rider & horse

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With so much to do in any given day, it’s no wonder that many of us reflect on our day’s activity with frustration of just how busy we’ve been, but how little we’ve achieved.

Now there are a number of reasons for this of course, but there is one in particular I‘d like to share with you.

Quite often the common cause for days, weeks, months and even years of delay, procrastination, busy for busy sake is that our emotional impulses are ruling our reasoning.

This is best explained by Sigmund Freud who had a powerful metaphor for this – The Rider and Horse – and it’s very useful to keep in mind when dealing with everyday activities that might be getting the better of you or you get an urge to pursue something that is not in line with your what you truly need to acheive.

In this metaphor it’s important that we look upon ourselves as the rider. Now the horse has a mind of its own and will always take the path of least resistance; it will always take the route that is clear, flat and free from obstacles. If it finds itself on a path that’s difficult, it will immediately look for an easier more pleasurable route. The horse it not interested in long term goals, nor is it really interested in where it wants to go. It‘s mainly concerned with the immediate short term route in front of them and enjoying the wind through its mane!

Of course if you let the horse take charge, you will end up taking the path that avoids of any pain and seek out pleasure all the time. The horse represents our emotional impulse.

Now the rider is our reasoning and understands that in order to get to the top of the hill you may need to cover some tricky terrain that can cause some discomfort and pain and therefore needs to control the horse and its impulse to turn away, go off course to avoid potential pain. The rider sees the long term picture and route to get there.

It’s worth keeping the picture of the rider and horse the next time you find yourself avoiding certain activities or decisions because they may cause pain or are simple boring. Is this your emotional impulse trying to gallop you off in a different direction?

As the rider it’s important to identify when you impulse is resisting your commands and to force it will in order to achieve your desired end result.

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