It was a warm sunny morning, my client Jack arrived at the farm. He was a handsome 21-year-old actor who was working on overcoming an eating disorder and low self-esteem. He had been a victim of the entertainment industry, where people had criticized him about his body, his looks, his voice, and his vibe, among other things. Jack was very sensitive from enduring many years of criticism, judgment, and rejection. He had been a teen model and a television star. Now, he was working to come to peace with his experiences so that acting could be a fun, joyous, and healthy career again.
Jack deeply loved animals and was very interested in working with the horses. Looking like a typical movie star, he arrived in his blue sports car, shades on, casually dressed with a cool vibe.
The horses were already out in the field, so Jack and I joined them.
“I’d like to work with this big guy,” Jack said. I asked him why he felt drawn to Thor, and he replied, “He’s big, a little intimidating, and it seems like it may be a challenge.”
I walked Thor to the round pen. He sniffed around, walking in his very slow, nonchalant way, exploring the space until he eventually came to a halt. Thor stood still and looked at me, giving me the cue that he was ready to work with Jack. Jack made his way into the centre of the round pen, where he stated his intention: healing and confidence.
I began to notice Thor’s behavior right away. He was standing against the side of the round pen. His ears were back and he kicked his back legs out a couple of times very slowly, like cow kicks, He looked irritated and angry. This was a behaviour I had not seen in Thor before. Thor was a gentle giant with the softest of hearts.
I asked Jack what was going on inside him.
“I am trying to control him with my energy,” he said. “He is reminding me of my dad, who is so powerful, and I am trying to control him with my energy. I am feeling really angry with my dad and the way I have been treated and bullied all my life. This is the way I relate to people when I feel threatened.”
Jack told me that he had always felt nonverbally threatened by people that were bigger than him and had authority over him. He had begun taking steroids in his teens and working out regularly at the gym. His body grew in size, and he felt more powerful. At the time, he said he thought “these guys can’t hurt me anymore because I am bigger.” He believed that the bigger he was, the safer he would feel. Yet, inside he was hurting. He felt like a child and was soft and scared. He was trying to portray to Thor that he was bigger than him, and he was using his energy to give Thor the impression that he was bigger and stronger. Except his tactic wasn’t working. Thor was reflecting it right back to him, and the fear inside Jack didn’t subside. It only escalated and made him angrier.
Thor was reflecting back to Jack exactly what Jack was giving out energetically. It was truly amazing to witness. Jack began to cry. As he continued to share his feelings, to get clear on his pattern and become more real and vulnerable, Thor relaxed and untensed his body. Jack was realizing what he had been doing. He had been fighting his fear by trying to appear stronger and bigger, but it wasn’t working in his real life and it wasn’t working with Thor. He was scared and vulnerable beneath his tough exterior.
As Jack became more vulnerable and authentic with what he was feeling, Thor gently and slowly walked over to Jack, rubbed his face gently on Jack’s torso, and rested his head there. A soft energy was in the air. As soon as Jack stopped trying to internally control him, Thor was able to connect with him. Jack was able to process his feelings, to make sense of and become conscious of a pattern that had been harming him in every aspect of his life. He was able to learn a new way of behaving that got him the attention he was craving. He no longer needed to portray himself as big and strong. Authenticity, the courage to speak his truth, and congruency were the answers.