I grew up on a farm, but my dad did not raise goats or horses, so even though I have heard the expression “Don’t Let Them Get Your Goat”, I did not know where it originated. I did know what it meant in life terms however. Getting someone’s goat is to steal their peace, attack their wellbeing and throw off their emotional balance. Most often it is an intentional act meant to cause distress, annoyance and anger. I guess the main impulse could be revenge or spite, but I am sure there are multiple motivations.
This phrase dates back to the early days of horse racing in England in the 19th century. Apparently, horses, especially thoroughbreds, are high-strung and nervous animals. In a time before comfort animals was a ‘thing’, those horse trainers discovered that goats were the ultimate calming agent for a horse. Horses are herd animals and need company to feel safe. The goat is perfect for this job as they have zero predator drive, are highly social, adapt well to their surroundings and even eat the same food! The horse and the goat would create a bond and the goat would then travel in the trailer with the horse to the races. Being in strange surroundings the night before a big race, and being naturally skittish, the horse depended on the goat for comfort and a sense of wellbeing (home). Then along comes the problem - (competition). It was common within the racing circuit for shady and dishonest owners to try and steal the goat from the best horse’s stall. If the abduction was successful, the horse would usually spend the rest of the night in distress, pacing the stall and be too worn out the next morning to run well enough to win the race. When someone got the horse’s goat, that strong, capable, magnificent creature would become agitated, stressed and unable to achieve peak performance. Even with all their training and natural ability, losing their support system crippled them. Has this ever happened to you? Has anyone ever tried to rob your goat (peace)?
I recently let someone get my goat. I’m not proud to say that, but it’s true. I allowed someone to steal my joy and create havoc in my life. Yes, it was intentional and absolutely unfair. It was not my imagination nor did the situation turn out the way I wanted. I was upset, hurt, angry; I surrendered my goat and gave them momentary power over my emotions. And then I stopped. Re-grouped. Prayed about it. Talked to my tribe about it and went and got my goat back!
My Hopefuls, people will try all manner of ways to tear you down. Some people are jealous, and this is the only avenue they have to neutralize the resentment they feel. Some use it as revenge for a wrong -real or otherwise. Others just do it simply because we allow them to get away with it. It is time we begin to protect our goats. How can we do that?
1. Believe In Yourself. The number one way that another person can steal your peace is to attack your self-confidence. We all need to understand our place and value in this world. You are here for a reason and your presence (and participation) is necessary. Everyone doesn’t have to love you. Do not waste time trying to win over everyone or be a people pleaser. Do the best job you can in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. Be kind. Be fair. Do good. If you follow these basic rules you will not bend or break at the whims, musing and falsehoods spread by anyone.
2. Stand Your Ground. There may come a time when you have to face someone who intends to do you emotional harm. Never let them see you sweat. Just like that magnificent horse, you are strong and resilient and able to handle the pressure. Even if you must stand alone, refuse to give up. You may not win the battle, but you will have the personal accomplishment of knowing you held your own. The victory is not always announced with a wreath of flowers or a parade. Some days just knowing you did the right thing will be enough.
3. Let It Go. Don’t spend your precious time pacing around your mental stall in distress over the actions of another. There is a bright and beautiful day dawning and you have a race to run. Never let the actions, thoughts or beliefs of another stand in your way. If you have wronged someone, apologize and make amends. Do you best to take care of issues that need your attention, but let yesterday and the pain that lived here go. If you do not dwell on the negativity of others, there is no way they can have control over your future, or your peace.
Just like those thoroughbred horses, we need a support system. We should surround ourselves with people who love unconditionally, inspire and motivate. We must also become our best advocate. Our joy, peace and HOPE can be attacked. Sometimes we see it coming, but it can also show up as a surprise and feel like an ambush. The best plan is to be prepared. Guard your goat. Fiercely protect your integrity and live an exquisite life. Do not seek revenge and never wallow in bitterness. Rise above the circumstances. Go out there and chase the wind and don’t give the goat thieves a chance.
Hope With Abandon
J. Hope Suis is an inspirational writer and relationship specialist with over 20 years of experience in single-parenting, dating, relationships, and a phrase she coined as “Solitary Refinement”, which is simply a season of being single to grow and develop as an individual. She has been cited [...]