Grow from Your Challenges

I listened to an interview where Marin Alsop, the first women to lead an American orchestra as a conductor shared about the joys and the challenges in making it to this level.

The part of her story that resonated with me the most was how she reframed challenges into opportunities for learning and growth. As a conductor, they don’t have space to practice directing an orchestra like a violinist has to practice at home. As a conductor, in order to practice, she would need to bring 35 of her instrument playing friends over to do so.

The ability to glean information from the thing that didn’t go as planned, or was wrong or an accident or a mistake can lead anyone into making adjustments which teaches you lessons you wouldn’t have learned if everything happened the “right” way.

The same learning happens when something doesn’t go correctly with our dogs.

I often see how people (I’m including myself here too) become so frustrated and overwhelmed when they practiced diligently in teaching their dog to something other than bark and lunge at another dog and then the practice went out the window when another dog was too close or surprised you and your dog coming around a corner.

Holding your breath and putting expectations on you and your dog to have perfect execution of your skills every single time is putting your energy and effort into a misguided goal.

Everything doesn’t have to hang in the balance.

The outcome of a walk, an interaction with another dog or person doesn’t have to hinge on your dog getting it “right”.

And, all of what you’re teaching isn’t lost in one less than perfect situation.

When you get wrapped up in all that went wrong, you lose sight of yourself and your connection with your dog.

Resentment, bitterness and lack of confidence surfaces and takes over.

You and your dog are not less than or defined by the outcome of a situation.

You and your dog aren’t good just because you could walk by another dog without your dog barking and lunging.

You and your dog aren’t bad just because you both got surprised and your dog had a natural reaction to a surprising situation which had you responding in fear too.

You and your dog are already enough and when things don’t go your way this doesn’t take it away from you either.

Even when judgments of others say otherwise.

Even when your gremlins show up and tell you all the terrible things you were taught to believe about yourself.

Brushing the dust off, standing back up and trying again without attachment to the outcome is the way you will build your confidence.

Taking action in spite of being knocked off your feet is the way you’ll build confidence.

Looking at yourself and your dog in the mirror and saying to you both, you got this and get back to practicing it again and again and being open to what will happen will build your confidence.

Facing fear, moving through the challenge, takes courage and your willingness to keep going.

What lays on the other side of the edge is growth and having a deeper connection with yourself and the relationship you desire to have with others around you, including your dog!

Ask yourself:

What did you get to learn when things didn’t go as planned?

What is showing up for you and what do you need to get you and your dog to that next level?

When you get sidelined again, what support do you need or to have in your corner so you can get up and try again?

Set up a Discovery Call with me and find out how our partnership can support you in your growth.

Register for the 90 min Creating Empowered Choices Workshop on 14 January at Sol Health Yoga!

Empowered Choices

Why I take a different approach than what other traditional dog trainers and behavior consultants do is because I value honoring how our dog’s feel over what they can do for us.

If this stirs you up, I’m curious about what that energy is trying to tell you.

I also invite you to consider what I’m about to share with you too.

Our dogs are expressing how they feel through the action they take.

When your dog is feeling grief, rage, frustration, your dog’s body is tense, they are no longer breathing deeply (breathing deeply invites in more calm sensations), they are frozen in place and staring at the thing they are uncomfortable with in that moment this is creating heightened distress in your dog’s body. What results from these sensations are behaviors like barking, lunging and growling.

Our minds want so badly to respond to behavior because that’s what’s been the primary focus and how the traditional dog training world operates and what you’ve been taught to do.

Addressing behavior alone doesn’t look at the entire situation holistically. There are so many variables impacting how your dog is responding and a significant variable is you and how you show up for your dog in any situation.

What your dog does is in response to what you do too.

Now, let’s take a look at how you factor in.

Before moving into responding to your dog, I want you to check in with yourself.

When your dog is emotionally erupting, do you recognize what your body is experiencing too?

Do you also feel frustrated, irritated and overwhelmed by what your dog is doing?

When you look only to correct or punish behaviors, you’re motivated by your own discomfort and emotional pain.

If you don’t recognize what you’re feeling and only desire to attempt to stop your dog from expressing his discontent, then you’re bypassing your and your dog’s feelings.

Afterward you feel more shame and guilt and try even more to do this all again.

What happens when you’re not successful in stopping your dog’s behavior?

How does that feel?

What do you in response?

The cycle continues.

This isn’t empowering.

You’ve fallen into a mindset trap of perpetuating your own discomfort and pain while doing the same for your dog.

What we give attention to, we invite more of that into our reality.

Now, when your dog is feeling relaxed and calm, your dog’s physiological responses to that feeling are a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure, muscle relaxation and breathing deeper.

The physiological response in your dog’s body results in calm behaviors like being settled on the couch or on his bed, quietly chewing on a toy, sunbathing by the window, walking with you on a leash are motivated by how your dog feels in that moment.

When your dog feels calm and he will do calm things.

These are the behaviors you capture and reward.

Creating a habit takes time and consistency and the more often your dog feels relaxed and calm, the behavior happens again and again.

The benefit to you, is that you are rewarded in that moment is sharing in the feeling of being calm and relaxed too.

How lovely is that!

When you can take a moment and connect back into yourself about what you’re experiencing when your dog is doing x behavior, you can find freedom in making a choice in how you respond with your own behavior.

Having choice is empowering.

When you take a moment and choose to connect with how you feel and take action based on the feeling you want more of, you invite more of those feelings like the sensations of calm, settled, relaxed and joy.

The feeling of calm in your body motivates you to respond to your dog in that manner.

When you tell yourself you’re desiring to feel calm when taking your dog to the vet, you can then be open in making choices like recognizing there’s a longer wait at the vet, so you let the receptionist know you’re waiting outside if your dog has a hard time being around other dogs in a confined space.

This then invites into you and your dog feeling more content and relaxed which also sets you up for success in being more present when you’re needing to address your dog’s health and wellness concerns with his medical provider.

Knowing how your body feels when you’re experiencing peace gives you space in how you can set up your home where your dog gets to experience peace too.

You want peace when you’re on a work call, you feel connected to your dog and desire the same for him, so you close blinds, set your doggie den away from the window and give your dog something to chew.

When you do more of this, then you experience more of what you want too.

Taking it a step further, when things don’t go as planned (that happens too), you can also take a moment and re-evaluate what didn’t work and take the action necessary to adjust the environment and fine tune what you and your dog need to work on.

You pursue what feeling peace, freedom and ease into your body, you’re inviting the same in for your dog too.

When you prioritize how your dog feels, you can empathize with how your dog interprets his world. When you take stock in how your dog expresses himself and what you can do to bring in more of what you want your dog to feel while alleviating those things that cause your dog discomfort and pain.

Do you desire to explore how a stronger and more loving emotional connection can be so beneficial to the two of you?

Here are some ways you can work with me:

1:1 coaching

Community Connections Membership Group

Creating Empowering Choices 90 min workshop at Sol Health Yoga

Empowered Choices Starts with Awareness

Growth requires change.

Change offers opportunity to reflect on what’s working and also what isn’t working.

What isn’t working isn’t about what you’re doing wrong or bad.

What isn’t working is a chance for you to receive a reflection about how ways you’re showing up in your own life may need some shifts, so you can feel what you desire to feel in your life.

Whether that’s more joy, freedom, ease, relaxed or you insert your desired core feeling________.

When you can shift those things that are no longer working for you, you gain clarity about where you want to go.

When you shift, those around you also shift.

The relationships in your life with family, friends and even your dogs begin to shift in ways which you could even imagine before, but what you get to receive from this is more harmonious to you.

Thank you to Paula and Maya for opening up space for me to share how I recognized my own opportunities for change and what I got to shift.

I’m excited to share this with you all too.

I invite you to join me for a Creating Empowering Choices at Sol Health Yoga Studio on 14 January at 10am!


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