A few days ago I spent the afternoon in the field with the horses in heavy rain observing how they dealt with it, especially as their current ‘summer’ field doesn’t have a shelter. They couldn’t escape the rain by sheltering and so they had to find other ways of coping. As the intensity of the rain increased the horses bunched together more closely and set their backs to the rain blowing in on a north easterly wind.

I followed their lead and put my back to the rain, as did my dog. We were all facing the same way, and facing it together. The horses became very still and sunk more deeply into themselves, into their inner world and closing off to a degree from their outer world. I’m also aware that when coping with heavy rain, the horses are less responsive to me and less tolerant of me. They seem to have enough to deal with and don’t welcome any extra pressure, such as being touched and stroked. They have shifted their resources elsewhere.  Not just that, their resources are needed elsewhere as a coping mechanism.

I thought about what the learning could be in this and what greater understanding could be found when going through my own extra loads in life. I try to do what the horses do, to pull back from the outer world as much as I can, and put my energies into my inner world to find the resilience and resources to deal with whatever the extra load is bringing. If I don’t do that, I can become less tolerant, less patient, less myself. However, I only give myself that space once I become aware that I am not managing. The horses didn’t try to struggle on, they faced the extra load and dealt with it as best they could by moving their energies away from other activities and concentrating on coping with the present moment.

Looking at it another way, being less tolerant of people around me can be the first sign that I am struggling with something as yet unacknowledged, but none the less there. It’s understandable to hide our inner state from ourselves when worried about something or to avoid thinking about something for fear of the emotions it might bring up. We can try to struggle on stoically, but it bursts out in other ways; a sharp response to a friend, an angry retort; or down the line, struggling on can lead to exhaustion, depression and illness.

A change in tolerance levels can bring into our conscious awareness that something is bothering us or that we are not coping. When that happens it’s worth taking time to turn inwards and check how you are feeling. Asking yourself, what’s the matter? What’s bothering me? Only then can you divert resources and give yourself the space and support you need to cope with it.

What that space looks like may look very like the horses; sinking more deeply into yourself to connect with your inner resilience, and having others standing quietly beside you for support while you brave the rain.