It's been several years since I've had a puppy in the Puppy K class and driving home last week I felt like every mom - of any species - must feel when they put their kid in class for the first time. So much pressure!
Of course, I immediately realized it's all self-imposed. I mean no one else cares how good my puppy is (or isn't) at nose touch. Yet, there I was, in full compare-mode, hoping that when it was our turn for recalls that my kid was the best!
How truly ridiculous!
It's easy to see how dumb this internal conversation is now sitting at a computer or reading this away from the moment. But there in the room, I am totally hoping that mine will be the smartest kid in class. Mind you, I don't know anyone else in this class - no one. There isn't another Berner and most seem to be first-time students, so it's likely that I won't be with this group long term. Didn't seem to matter.
Calling it Out
As you know if you are a regular reader, I like to call bullsh*t on my own crap and share in case there's anyone else out there who might find it useful. This is one of those moments where I know better and want to do better. As they say, the first step is admitting ...
There's no point in spending time on the flaws of logic here - we all recognize the idiocy of the story. No, what I'd rather do is focus on how we pull ourselves out of this moment of harsh comparison whether we are in Puppy K or walking the course at Nationals.
Naturally, the emotional trigger is, "am I good enough?" Or "Do I deserve to be here?" Or "Am I worthy?" These are all versions of the same symptom: comparing yourself (and your dog) to others and fearing you don't stack up. But stack up to what? I mean honestly, who (besides yourself) is truly judging you? And if you know for a fact someone is judging you (yes, I have them too), do those opinions really matter?
By the way, do you know why "those people" are judging you? Same reasons - they are fearful that they might not be good enough and by tearing you down, they rise. Harumph.
But back to you (and me). What's a girl to do when we get swept up in this thinking of comparison and fear?
- Name it. Be aware of what you're thinking without judging yourself for the thought. Just notice.
- Trace it. Pause and unpack what's causing the thought to enter. Feeling nervous? Insecure? Maybe just normal butterflies? Find out why.
- Choose again. Reconnect to your dog and remember that you two are there as a team and it's about your own journey. Visualize throwing the old thinking in the trash - wad and toss!
- Replace the thought. Go back to the mantra you've picked for the day or event. In the case of puppy class, it just might be, "love" or "relationship."
These moments are why I believe so much in having a mantra whether it's for nationals, a regular trial, a breed show or weekly class. Mantras help give us something more positive - and conscious - to think about, and to think in this way is to fill our minds with positive thoughts. I'm going to go with "laughter" this week in Puppy K. What will you choose?