Now that I’m home from a week of intensive learning at the IAABC Conference and elsewhere that has switched on vast new areas of my brain, I’m thinking a mile a minute about all the new projects I want to begin, new skills I want to learn and teach, new ways to help my community and enhance lives, and it’s a lot. I’m excited, hugely so, but I’m overwhelmed by the expectations I’ve placed on myself.
So today I let myself be guided by Tiggy, allowing her superb judgement and beautiful natural behaviours to show me what to do:
Slow It Down.
Feeling confused? Slow It Down.
Feeling conflicted? Slow It Down.
Feeling anxious, afraid, stressed, inadequate to the tasks you’ve set yourself?
Slow. It. Down.
All the way. Stop, breathe, assess, wait, sniff, mooch in the shade. Just because you can run at 50mph doesn’t mean you have to or that you should.
As trainers, we are prone to overloading ourselves in a way that we wouldn’t even contemplate overloading our dogs. We do it with the best of intentions; we want to be the best we can be in order to help as many animals as we can, and we’re constantly pushing and rushing and setting ourselves up for stress and overarousal by charging at every new idea and opportunity like lurchers in a field full of rabbits. We understand the psychobiology of what we’re doing to ourselves and yet we do it anyway. Running at 50mph, adrenaline and cortisol through the roof, eating poorly and sleeping worse.
Can you imagine putting your dog in that situation? I can’t.
So from today I’m making a change, and inviting my peers to hold me to it and to join me. Let’s set ourselves up for success, take care of our minds and bodies, reward ourselves often, stop punishing ourselves, give ourselves choice and control. And most of all: