Susan L. Farrell, Author

Overly Cautious? Overconfident?


Recently my husband (Rick) and I visited my brother (Jim) who lives in Kentucky. Jim arranged for us to go on a trail ride at the farm where he stables his horses. A trail guide, Jasmine, went with us since my husband and I know nothing about riding.

Although this was something I wanted to do, I was also really nervous about it. Okay, I was more than a little scared. Horses are big. It’s a long fall to the ground. And I’m at an age where falling and breaking a hip isn’t just a joke anymore.

Jasmine was great. She was very patient with me. She let me spend as much time in the arena practicing with my horse (Nemo) as I wanted before we went on the trail. She gently corrected me when I needed it and made me feel as comfortable as it was possible for me to feel.

At one point I made a comment about maybe I was being too cautious. She said that it was good to be a little cautious. Jim said that the riders that got themselves, and others, into trouble were those that were overconfident and urged their horse to run whether they knew how to control the horse or not.

He explained that when a horse runs suddenly, the other horses think that it is running from danger and will also run. That endangers not only the overconfident rider, but also the other riders who are probably doing exactly what they are supposed to do.

As I became more my confident in my abilities, I began to enjoy the ride more. (I think it helped when Jasmine said that Nemo was a professional and knew how to behave with inexperienced riders.)

By the end of the ride, I was feeling comfortable and could focus on the ride and not just on not falling off of Nemo. Riding is something I would like to do again.

Several days later, I started thinking about the pitfalls in many situations of being either overly cautious or overconfident.

Some caution in most situations is probably good. It keeps us from doing stupid things, such as crossing the street without looking for traffic.

However, if we are too cautious, we will not take as many risks and we will miss out on many good things in life. If I had been too cautious, I would have missed out on a great experience.

Realistic confidence is necessary. If we don’t have any confidence in ourselves or our abilities, it will make it very difficult to do anything.

However, if we are overconfident, we can get ourselves, and sometimes others, into difficult, sometimes dangerous, situations.

The answer, I think, is balance. We need to exercise enough caution that we keep ourselves, and others, reasonably safe. And we need to have an accurate understanding of our abilities so that we can maintain a realistic level of confidence, keeping in mind that we can increase our confidence by doing more.

If you like this blog, you will love my book series, “52 Weeks of Wisdom: A Woman’s Guide to Self-Empowerment.” Click here for more information and to order.


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