Arguing against compartmentalizing.Nov 28, 2023
This month in the membership, we aren't talking about dogs at all. Okay, maybe we are a little bit, but it's not the focus of our mindset work. Instead, we are getting our life-life in shape because of how much it impacts our dog-life.
It turns out we aren't robots. We can't shut off one aspect of our lives and be fully present in another area. So when we walk into the ring, we are likely affected by whatever else is going on in our lives, whether we consciously realize it or not.
You would think this is a bad thing, but it's not. Building awareness of how our life-life affects our dog-life empowers us to make better choices in how we handle our dogs and how we mentally prepare to compete. And best of all, our non-dog lives give us opportunities to practice those necessary mindset skills regularly.
Here are some mindset skills you need in your dog-life that you can practice in your life-life.
Gratitude. When it comes to the mental game, gratitude helps us maintain our perspective and connect to our why, even in a string of NQs or setbacks. Studies also show that thoughts of gratitude work on a higher frequency, positively affecting our mood and outlook. We need gratitude in dog sports to ground us and remind us of what's important - like being able to run our dogs. Luckily, we can develop a habit of gratitude through journalling or speaking aloud those things we are grateful for. You'll be pleasantly surprised about the impact this will have in all areas of your life.
Fun. I'm not ashamed to admit that sometimes I wonder if I remember how to have fun. I've written a lot about this topic in the last month or so (check out previous newsletter articles on the blog as well as two previous podcast episodes), and doing so has put fun's importance back in the forefront. We have to have enjoyment - our dogs need enjoyment. We must remember how to be light, playful, and connected. Think of it as creating balance and an opportunity to refuel. Turns out we need to practice having fun!
Pause. So often in our days, we are reacting to events around us instead of responding thoughtfully. If my dogs lunge through a gate before I can gather them, it's easy to react with a nagging yell. If I get caught in traffic, it's easy to react with frustration, allowing it to crumble my mood. However, when we take a literal second to pause, we give ourselves the space to decide how to respond. I can calmly reset my dogs and remind them what I want; I can see the traffic as an opportunity for some much-needed deep breaths. It's not about seeing the "sunny side" but consciously choosing our responses.
Putting these skills into practice whenever possible in our life-life will make those skills stronger in our dog-life. Elite handlers pause and respond instead of react. Elite handlers balance work and fun. Elite handlers are grateful for the effort their dogs give. So much of our mental game is deciding not only what kind of handlers we want to be but also what kind of humans we want to be.
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