Episode #13 The Lessons My Daughter’s Addiction Taught Me

One of the most common phrases I’ve heard in the last few weeks is “I’m ready for this to be over. When can life go back to normal?”  

We’ve really have had a lot of heavy stuff hitting us in the last few months! The pressure has been enormous - even if you’ve been stuck at home or had to slow down waiting for business to bounce back. 

It’s natural to want normal again. It’s natural to want the pressure to go away. 

Even better is to have pressure make you stronger.  

In the week before my daughter turned 22, I got a phone call that told me that normal might be gone forever. On a snowy night in February, she told me that her roommate was kicking her out of the house because she was hooked on drugs. She needed to go to rehab. 

In Episode 13 of my podcast, Jen and I tell the story of that snowy night and how I got an instant education on being the parent of a drug addict.   

For the next several years, my life was marked by an excruciating level of uncertainty and fear interspersed with glimmers of hope as we navigated the ups and downs of Jen’s addiction.  

Eventually those glimmers of hope became streams of light as we both became stronger by turning into the pressure rather than away from it. The journey had moments of truth along the way where our choices could have taken us over the edge or saved her life. We couldn’t possibly know at the time what the outcome would be.  

With all that we have in front of us right now, we can’t possibly know what the outcome will be, yet it’s essential to remember that we have choices.  

We can either put our heads down  and try to endure, or we can turn into the pressure and allow it to shape us, cleanse us and make us stronger.  

You will hear our choices and dilemmas and our coping strategies in this episode. While it seems like a heavy conversation at times, I hope you will take away some useful insights on handling pressure that you can use to make you stronger no matter what normal looks like tomorrow. 

If you do have a takeaway - or a question - please hit reply to this email. I want to hear from you! Whether you or someone you know is facing drug addiction or just the anxiety caused by so much uncertainty, there’s a good chance either me or Jen will have a way to help.  

Note: This episode was originally recorded for Jen’s podcast The Unbreakable Boundaries Podcast.  

Jen’s bio

Jen has been an addiction strategist for parent's through for over 8 years. Because of having lived in the world of addiction for so long and being able to repair her life, she know what it takes to for someone to stop. She helps parents understand the confusing and chaotic world of addiction and more importantly, how they can help their loved ones through it. There is no one better to help understand the subtle red flags, interpret situations, and help fill in the gaps of what is really going on with their addicted loved one better than a person that has been through it. Parents need strategies to support themselves through their loved ones addiction.

You can find Jen at: 

 Website: www.ManeelyConsulting.com

Facebook Page: @Jenniferyouarenotalone

LinkedIn: Jennifer Maneely


Every now and then, you find someone who pierces through the noise of all the people vying for our attention with a message that is so clear and compelling, you just have to stop and listen. I found that person a few years ago in Warwick Schiller. Yes, in his videos he was talking about horses. But lots of people are on the internet talking about horses.

Warwick is different. He’s really talking about listening, presence and being. He’s sharing his personal transformation. Moreover, he’s not just talking – he’s showing and embodying something invisible that creates a change.

That’s what made me reach out to him for this conversation. Most of the conversations on this podcast are with people I know. Most of the people who invite Warwick on their podcast are people who make a living in the horse world. This conversation would be between two people from different worlds who don’t know each other.

The question going into the conversation was “where would we find the common ground?” and it did not take long. While a lot of people who listen to this podcast are in the horse world, I believe anyone who is on a journey of becoming a better version of themselves will find this conversation both deeply satisfying and perhaps challenging.

You will notice throughout that Warwick challenges himself both during the conversation and in the stories he tells. And he is super skilled at weaving lessons and themes into a meaningful narrative. Perhaps his most powerful lesson was taught to him by the horse who showed him he did not know what he was doing. With a curious mind and a commitment to listening, he discovered what a horse could teach him about himself.

In that way, this conversation is a master class in self-awareness.

Additional subjects and links for show notes 

Key topics: 

  • Just trail riding is like just jumping out of a plane – great as long as everything goes ok
  • What he did when everything he knew didn’t work with a new shutdown horse
  • Had to look outside the normal way of looking at things to solve the problem
  • His realization about listening instead of asking
  • The story of the mustang who had a random bolting problem solved by listening
  • How horses can read our mind
  • The importance of safety with horses
  • The catalyst that pivoted Warwick on a journey from being a trainer (through asking) to a facilitator (through listening)
  • The collective awareness of horses in the herd and how they communicate danger
  • Horses can tell if we are present or not – present is your mind is thinking about what’s going on right now
  • Not present could be just a mere 3 seconds from now or in the past
  • We are training horses to not have problematic behaviors that we are causing in the first place
  • Listening as a way to make the horse feel safe
  • Being present in the modern world is more difficult that it looks
  • Lao Tzu “If you are depressed you are living in the past if you are anxious you are living in the future and if you are peace you are living in the present
  • Anxiety and depression are about not being right here right now – and horses are like mental health practitioners
  • Bruce Anderson Natural Humanship – pressure to work out in the moment what’s going on and reach for your tools instead of your rules –
  • Lynn’s story of learning to be present under pressure
  • Horses really good at reading incongruent behavior where the inner and the outer don’t match
  • How humans can shut down the way horses shut down
  • What we humans do with uncomfortable feelings
  • The Traumas (big T) and traumas (little t) of our childhood that shape us
  • The masks we wear to cope with our traumas
  • What emotions we can and cannot show in our family
  • You cannot selectively suppress emotions – suppressing “lower” emotions also suppresses “higher” emotions
  • The addictions we have to cover up anxiety and other emotions we don’t want to feel
  • Some addictions are not obvious – it could be food, work, video games, technology, shopping
  • Replacing old habits with new habits
  • Competing in the World Equestrian Games 2018 (WEG) – and the pressures of performance plus the unexpected
  • The mindset training Warwick and his wife did with Jane Pike to prepare for WEG
  • The payoff for having a “safe word” to prevent negative thinking
  • The first time Warwick is in the zone – instead of his “asscheeks clamped so tight it’s not even funny”
  • The alternating nostril breathing technique
  • How he learned to defeat the inner voice that told him he did not belong there
  • The “itty bitty shitty committee”
  • How Warwick did an exercise to count judgmental thoughts - and had 21 before breakfast
  • When you start becoming aware of judgmental thoughts – you learn how many you have about yourself.
  • The distinction between guilt and shame and how to reframe your perspective once you become aware
  • Fan of Wayne Dyer quote “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change
  • How horses read our minds -and stories that shore that up
  • In order to be present – we need to create a mental picture for what we are doing now
  • The way energy works with people and horses
  • Horses are masters at reading energy
  • Humans can learn to tune into energy
  • The value of soft focus to tune into a bigger picture
  • Cannot move away from something, you can only move towards something
  • The big blue tree vs the orange basketball
  • A critical shift in Warwick’s people watching in airports – may you be happy
  • Our judgments are like swallowing the poison pill and hoping the other person gets sick
  • Not wanting to be wrong
  • Not liking to be spoken to sternly about what he did wrong
  • Language can send us into the “blue tree” focus instead of the “orange basketball” focus
  • Horses are beautiful mirrors of our presence and energy – they are truthtellers
  • Warwick’s current personal journey of solving trauma
  • The connection between our thought patterns and our health
  • The space we need to be in to transform our patterns
  • The power of meditation in learning to manage thoughts
  • “If you can’t control what your mind thinks about when not on the horse, you really can’t control what your mind is thinking about when you are on the back of a 1000 pound animal that’s leaving town”
  • The difference between reaching for your tools instead of reaching for your rules (panic, fear, frustration, patterns, etc)
  • When you think you are doing it – you’re are not doing it
  • Why take a cold shower every morning

Warwick's contact information: 

Website https://www.warwickschiller.com/

Email: warwick@warwickschiller.com

You Tube https://www.youtube.com/user/WarwickSchiller

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/warwickschiller/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WarwickSchillerPerformanceHorsemanship/

Other links mentioned in show: 

Jane Pike, Equine Mindset Coach

The Masks of Masculinity, Lewis Howes

Barbara Schulte, Personal Performance Coach

Brene Brown – TED talk on Power of Vulnerability

Jen Maneely on helping parents with adult child’s addiction

Russell Brand Recovery

Lynn Carnes TEDx Talk From Raging Bitch to Engaging Coach

World Equestrian Games 2018

Bruce Anderson – Natural Humanship

Cedar Creek Stables

Temple Grandin Animals in Translation

Zen Horse Zen Mind

The Sense of Being Started At

Joe Wolter Clinic

Tom Dorrance

Ray Hunt

Miraval Retreats

Waking the Tiger – Healing Trauma Peter Levine

Energy Anatomy Caroline Myss –

You Can Heal Your Life Lousie Haye

The Biology of Belief – Bruce Lipton

Shushan Aleaqui – Clarity and Transformation

The Work – by Byron Katie

Muse Brain Training

Transitions – Lynn Brown

Wim Hof Method – Cold Water Training