A Farmer Had a Horse

I came across this fable the other day as I was reading Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix’s book, The Mindfulness Solution to Pain. The title is the perfect description of the essence of the book. Whether one is experiencing chronic pain or emotional pain, mindfulness has been a proven resource to help manage, tolerate and in many cases reduce pain. What I also appreciated from this read, is that it falls in line with the evidence based therapy for eating disorders, DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy). 

Radical acceptance, a skill from DBT, is all about accepting a situation, as it is, without judgment. Stuck in traffic? Getting ticked off and inpatient you are not where you want/need to be will not change the reality that you are not moving as fast as you would like. It is what it is. Might as well, in this situation that you can’t change, use another DBT skills: intentionally creating positive experiences. Turn on the radio to your favourite station and rock out (safely of course) while you wait. Did you just binge or engage in an ED symptom? Accept it without judgement. Remind yourself that shame and guilt will only make you further engage in ED symptoms. Accept that it happened, without judgment towards yourself or the situation, and forge on. 

I digress… what I like about radical acceptance, and other DBT skills, is that it encourages one to go with the flow and be more flexible in thinking and behaving, a sign of health and wellness. As the fable will show, and is an important reminder, things may not always be what they seem, nor have the costs or benefits initially mourned or celebrated. Therefore, take each moment as it is and not get ahead of ourselves. 

Check it out:

“A farmer had a horse. One day, his horse ran away.

All the neighbours came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, his horse came back with twenty wild horses. The man and his son corralled all 21 horses.

All the neighbours came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

One of the wild horses kicked the man’s only son, breaking both his legs.

All the neighbours came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and killed every young man, but the farmer’s son was spared, since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted.

All the neighbours came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”’

- Unknown