Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Voyage to Trust

With the close of this year creeping up on us, I have started writing my goals for the next twelve months. Many of the personal goals I have written have a common theme:  leaving my comfort zone. 

I have been focusing on changing some thought patterns I have had since childhood.  Patterns that have kept me rooted in a negative space, afraid to break from the safe little haven I have made for myself emotionally. 

My entire life I have had people tell me that I am too concerned about what other people think.  How right they are.  I am an approval seeking maniac.  I have repeatedly lowered and changed my goals in life to conform to what other people expect of me.  I apologize when I should tell someone to get lost.  I allow my decisions to be influenced by the opinions of others.   If I keep doing this...where am I?  Who am I?  No wonder I grind my teeth when I sleep at night. 

Surround yourself with positive people.  Choose your attitude.  Embrace the joy.  Blah blah blah...I have heard it all.  We all have.  

Perhaps it takes a 2x4 upside the head, but today something clicked in my brain.  I am not going to be able to achieve any of the goals I am setting for myself if I continue to allow negative energy to enter my life.  Not just enter it, but control it.  

Negative energy has insidious influence in our lives.  It undermines our ability to achieve goals.  It saps happiness and empowers depression.  It ensnares you, wraps you in its tendrils of anger, bitterness and despair. 

Negative people do the same.  We all know a negative person.  Someone who brings you down, someone stuck in the rut of gloomy cynicism.  It may be impossible to sever your relationship with them, perhaps they are family, a coworker..maybe even a friend.  Dealing with their constant negative attitude can be a unrelenting drain on your own life, rendering it impossible to move forward. 

But it isn't impossible.  It is simply a matter of letting go.  Knowing in my heart that their negativity is not mine to carry.   Accepting "it is, what it is" has been giving me a peaceful assurance in the direction of my  life. 

Beyond the obvious applications within my marriage, friendships, & family,what I have been learning applies to my dogs and how I train & trial them.  As I was writing my personal goals - I realized they apply directly to my training goals.  If I can practice it on the field with my dog...maybe I can learn it well enough to apply it to my every day life and dealing with people. 

1. Search my own attitude for times when I have a negative thought.  Work to change it.  Change is a decision.  i.e. Before going out in the field to work with my dog, envision  a successful and fun training session.  Feel the partnership and mutual respect.  Base my session on that energy - do not allow indecision, insecurity & self doubt to control me.  If I can do that...my dog will feel that in me and it will flow like dominoes across the field. 

2. Resolve to have a real plan for what you want to do. Not just a goal, a plan to achieve it. If you have simple laid out steps to do something, it's much easier to achieve and stay positive.  For example:  Today I am going to work my dogs.  We are working on small spaces and driving. By planning the tasks we are going to work on it enables me to achieve those goals.  Rather than just showing up, blowing my whistle then letting my dog control the session by what she chooses to listen to or not.  Too many times I have allowed that to happen.  I am not in control - I let self doubt and indecisiveness control my sessions and we get no where because I am reacting rather than planning. 

3. If things are stressful, I need to take a moment, step away and consider the blessings I have surrounding me.  Then resolve to handle things in the light of that. If I approach things from a positive spin - it casts a different glow on the entire situation.  Most of the time I am not dealing with a major tragedy - I am dealing with things that are simply a minor stress and need to be handled accordingly.  I need to stop giving it  more power than it deserves.  Don't let it rent space in my brain. So, my dog doesn't lie down, we miss the fetch panels, drive panels, pen and the sheep jumped the ditch and are running across the state line - "it is what it is".  You now know what you need to work on. 

4. Being content comes from security.  Security from within.  Peace comes from G_d or a higher power.  What I cannot control...I need to let go.  It is not mine to carry.   Did we get a bad set of sheep at a trial?  Can I control that?  Nope.  Thunder and lightening at the post?  Let it go, stewing over it after I walk off the field will only raise my blood pressure and certainly will not change anything.  Let it go and hand it over...see #3

This next year is going to be about personal growth.  Getting out of my comfort zone.  Taking chances, opening up my heart and learning how to trust.  Even if I get hurt.   I do not trust easily....learning how to trust my dog is enabling me to open my heart and begin to trust people.  Finding joy in the journey on this voyage to trust. 


Karen said...

All goals worth achieving.
You go girl!
And what a perfect photo to end your post with:)

DeltaBluez Tess said...

small goals = big success!

That is how I do it.

RYKER said...

You have great insight, now comes the action! I have faith in you to achieve anything you set your mind too.
That last shot is spectacular!

RYKER said...

Trusting my dog comes naturally, it's the people I have a tougher time with. But I must admit the dog bloggers are the best!

Diana said...

OMG, I just love the rainbow sheep picture!!!!! Diana

Hillbilly Betty said...

Fabulous post and exactly what I needed to head into a new year of working dogs! Made me want to stand on my chair and cheer!

livin life said...

Good for you! Isn't it funny how the journey of sheepdogging is more about us! On the not about dogs side of life...have you checked out Brene Brown? I am reading her book "The Gift of Imperfection" and am finding it fabulous. Here's to 2011!

forensicfarmgirl said...

What a beautiful and thought-provoking post! Thank you! (and I loved the sheep rainbow shot!) Well done!

amy said...

It's so funny - I am signed up for the term approval seeking in google which is how I came across your post. Your dogs are beautiful btw. I created a free e-course for approval addicts. I'm a life coach (and a recovering approval addict). You can check it out here: http://www.bloomlifedesign.com/i-dont-need-your-approval/ :-)

Erin O said...

Sheepdogging really makes you look at yourself. Dogs are perfect and they chose to be our partners in this endeavorer. So it is up to us to take a good look at ourselves so we can be the best partner for our dogs as possible.

Great post. Good luck on the journey

Anonymous said...

Great post, I really like #3 and #4. I realize more and more that good herding is not all that much about dog training. Good luck for 2011 and let’s see where the rabbit whole takes us.