Perception is Everything

By Ddee Haynes

As I headed out the door to the barn, I saw him.  He was standing quietly at the opening of the barn gazing off into the distance.  He looked so peaceful and proud standing there with the sun behind his back.  The setting sun was casting his shadow out in front of him.  The shadow was long and majestic, and it appeared as if he was lost in thought looking at his silhouette.

As I stood quietly watching him, he seemed to sense my presence and turned quickly.  For a split second our eyes locked and we shared a moment.  Then he noticed the feed buckets I was carrying.  The moment was lost, and the silence replaced by a loud bray as he came running towards me ready for his supper. The long silhouette vanished, replaced by my short, fat, long eared, carefree, gentle mini donkey “Billy”.  In my heart of hearts, I truly believe the shadow is how Billy sees himself, majestic, brave and perfect, just like God sees us. 

In a world full of “self -image” it is so easy to get caught up in how others see or perceive us.  As a woman and a mother of two beautiful daughters, I understand completely we all want to look good, feel good, have the perfect outfit, good hair, etc.  However, when we let our “outside” appearance define our self –worth, it is easy to lose our true self and forget the person inside.

This idea of self-worth vs. self-esteem has been heavy on my heart. How we see ourselves verses how others see us.  So, what is the difference between self-esteem and self-worth?  The key difference between self-esteem and self-worth is self-esteem refers to the appreciation the individual has for his or her abilities. Self-esteem boosts his or her confidence making a person feel they can do various tasks. On the other hand, self-worth can be defined as the value an individual gives to their self.

Whether it be the rodeo arena or the arena of life, there is a fine line between self-worth and self-esteem.  When we are winning or on top of the world, it is very easy for both self-worth and self-esteem to be at an all-time high, but when our world is hectic, things aren’t going our way and it seems no matter what we do we cannot win, that is when the bottom falls out of both self-esteem and self-worth.

As a rodeo mom, I have watched not only my daughters, but other rodeo athletes struggle with self- worth and self-esteem when they are not winning. I feel the mental game of rodeo is the toughest and most struggled with obstacle.  A rodeo athlete can be mounted on the best horse, have spent hours upon hours in the practice pen fine tuning their skills and their horses to be totally prepared for their event.  Yet, when they ride into the arena or climb down into the chute, a rodeo athlete has less than 30 seconds from start to finish to put it all together.  There are so many variables to be considered, such as the ground in the arena, the animals drawn that the competitors must either ride, rope or tie. Regardless of all the variables, it is still up to the rodeo athlete to make the best of the situation.  

Having gone through losing streaks in life, I can testify losing streaks are like winning streaks; neither will last forever.  However, riding the losing streak is a much harder ride.  The devil of self-esteem and self-worth tends to step up and take the reins.  It is important to focus on how we perceive ourselves.  Do we feel worthy and what does our reflection in the mirror say to us? A positive attitude along with knowing you are worthy, in my opinion, are the most lethal weapons available to fight off the devil and take back the reins. 

When times are tough, I remind myself when it is hardest to pray and praise, that is when I need to pray and praise the most.  Do not let a win or a loss define your “true” self- worth.  Simply put, do not let a winning streak give you too much self-worth and self-esteem as it can all fall apart in less than 30 seconds.  In the words of Tim McGraw, “always stay humble and kind.”  Another great quote from my father is, “never get too big for your britches.”

In a nutshell, a true winner doesn’t quit when times are hard.  A true winner gets back up and tries again, and again and again.  To be a winner in life, surround yourself with people who clap for you when you win and tell you to get up when you fall, and do not forget to do the same. 

Most importantly be like Billy; see yourself as a winner and always remember God sees all his children as majestic, brave and perfect, regardless, if we walk out of the arena with a gold buckle or a face full of dirt.

Until next time….

Read more great stories in the April 2020 issue of Oklahoma Farm & Ranch.