This is the beginning of my Show Pony Summer Series! Over the summer I will be sharing all kinds of tips and tricks for how to turn your show ponies into workhorses.
Today we are getting curious, not with Jonathan Van Ness (I wish), but with our show ponies. We will be solving some of the mysteries around why we can’t seem to bring ourselves to use these items. At this point you have walked around your home with the 3 horsemen of your closet in mind: the workhorse, the show pony, and the out to pasture.
Show ponies are the items that are too nice, too expensive, too sentimental, too old, too new, too fancy, too (insert any excuse you have to not use these items). These items often have tags on, are in their original packaging, have dust on them, but you love them dearly.
To begin, picture one of your show ponies, it’s important you pick only one item to get the most out of this exercise. Try to use the same item for all of these questions. I will use the example of an item I struggle to use: my beautiful, white, Turkish towel (pictured above).
THE ORIGIN STORY
What is your item’s origin story? It doesn’t have to be worthy of a superhero, but how did this item come into your life? I’m serious, picture it! When did you and this item first meet?
- Was it at the sale rack?
- Was it a gift?
- Did you save for it?
- Was it hard earned?
- Did it used to belong to someone?
My Turkish towel was a beautiful gift from my friend Wendy at my wedding shower. I loved it immediately and my first thought was ‘I’ve always wanted a Turkish towel but never bought one for myself.’ It was beautiful, soft, and exactly what I had always wanted. So why have I never used it? Read on!
WHAT MESSAGE IS IT SENDING YOU?
Our belongings aren’t just items, they send big messages. Messages about: who we are, the status we are striving for, how we want to present ourselves to the world, how much money we make, how little money we make. All of these messages are wrapped up in the item you are struggling to wear.
My Turkish towel sends the message ‘you are not good enough.’ You see, I had wanted a Turkish towel for a long time, but it seemed too nice. I already had towels, I didn’t need a special one, so I envied my friends with beautiful Turkish towels, but never bought one for myself. When I ended up owning one the message didn’t change. Everytime I went to use it I would hear ‘you are not good enough for this.’
The goal of this question is to unpack the message this item is sending you. Usually, the message can be boiled down to ‘you are not enough.’ Not fancy enough, skinny enough, cool enough, good enough, wise enough, rich enough or worthy to use this item. Read on for how we will combat these messages.
HEAR THE FEAR
When you think about using this item, what is the fear that comes up?
Some fears include:
- What will people think? The fear of other people’s opinion
- What if I wreck it? The fear of loss
- What if I waste it? The fear of missing out (FOMO)
- What if I don’t like it? The fear of disappointment
The fear I hear when I go to use my Turkish towel is ‘what if I wreck it?’ It’s white, I would be using it at the beach, it will most likely get dirty and the idea of washing it is intimidating. So where does it stay? Safe from sand and sun and fun, in the closet. Knowing the fear is a really helpful way to realize what you are fighting against.
Now comes the part where we start fighting back! You have gotten curious about your item and it’s paying off, you are gathering a sense for why you aren’t using this item. My data is:It was a gift, I think it’s too good for me, I’m afraid of wrecking it.
HONOUR HOW IT CAME INTO YOUR LIFE
Instead of fighting how it came into your life, honour that story.
- If you bought it on sale, praise yourself for being such a fantastic bargain hunter.
- If you worked hard and saved your pennies, praise yourself for being so determined, hard working, and focused.
- If it used to belong to someone, thank that person for passing it on to you, think of them and your memories.
My Turkish towel was a lovely gift from a dear friend. When I intentionally think of this origin story I change the script from ‘this is a gift, I would never give myself permission to buy it for myself, so don’t ruin it.’ To a story of ‘this is a beautiful, thoughtful gift, from a dear friend who wants me to use it and enjoy it.’ See the difference and permission that gives?
How can you honour your show pony’s origin story?
WRITE YOUR OWN MESSAGE
These messages are subliminal, they’re subtle, and we can quiet the message by keeping the item tucked away. However, that message is not gone, it’s always there waiting for you. To get rid of the message for good you need to write your own message.
My message: I am good enough for my Turkish towel. No item gets to tell me what I can or cannot use. I am worthy of having and using nice things.
It may feel silly or uncomfortable, but you know what’s sillier and more uncomfortable? Letting an item silently send you messages for years! Take back the message and take back your items!
FEAR FEARS ACTION
You’ve heard the fear, loud and clear, now we get to do something about it. Figure out what the core fear is and give it the antidote
- The fear of other people’s opinion – give yourself a mantra and repeat it over and over.
- The fear of loss- Remind yourself of all the items you have, all the items you have let go, and that the world is a safe place to use your stuff.
- The fear of missing out – remind yourself that you are missing out on it 100% of the time you don’t use it.
- The fear of disappointment – I guarantee the more you use your special items, the more you will enjoy them, and the easier this will get.
When I go to grab my Turkish towel before heading out the door, my brain loves to remind me of all the terrible stains waiting for me at the beach. However, I remind myself, I can figure out how to wash this, a little dirt never hurts anyone, and it’s better to use it and wreck it, than never use it at all.
What action will you take against your fear?
I started writing this post thinking we could ask our show ponies some fun questions, but somehow I ended up talking about worthiness and fear. The more I think about this topic and the more I use my stuff I remember our stuff isn’t light or easy, but it’s important. Our belongings touch on big, heavy, serious, topics. That can be scary, and it can also be exciting and freeing.
I feel much better and more confident about using my Turkish towel this summer because I have seriously considered why I don’t use it. Now, when I hear the message of ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘what if you wreck it’ they are familiar. They have lost their scariness. They are simply my brain trying to keep me safe. I reassure myself by thinking I am worthy of using my towel and the world is a safe place to use my stuff.
I would LOVE to hear what show pony you thought of when asking these questions and how this has shifted your thinking.
Look out for more in the show pony summer series!