a leash, a couch and trust issues
Imagine you have a dog. Your favourite breed of all. A beautiful, cute, playful dog who is well-behaved and listens to you.
It´s spring time and the sun is finally coming out again. A beautiful warm day and you decide to go to this huge park your dog loves so much.
You get there, you tell your dog to sit, and you gently take off his leash.
Your dog waits for your command and as soon as you give him a „go“, he runs off into the wide green open space in front you.
Even as a non dog-owner, I can imagine how seeing your dog running through a field must feel like.
Free, content, and so joyful in this moment. Just by watching your dog having the time of his life, like he´s running for the first time, you feel the same.
However, doing so requires a good amount of trust. You wouldn´t take off his leash if you doubted he´ll come back to you again. Without training him beforehand you wouldn´t be able to let him experience this kind of freedom and playtime with other dogs. He might take off, won´t stop playing (or fighting) with other dogs, or even bite a runner passing by.
But.. you invested this time in him and in you. To create a bond that is strong and safe for both of you to experience those blissful moments.
He can have a so much better lifequality — thanks to you.
Thanks to your willingness to discipline your dog, you can let him go and not fear he might disappear.
You can count on him and he can count on you. (awwww…).
Can you count on you?
Or in other words:
How well-trained is your dog?
And yes you do have one.
Not the one you just imagined.
But the one in your mind that likes to do all kind of stupid stuff.
Just like a dog, we have needs and urges we preferebly don´t wanna fight against.
We are pulled to sit on the couch, when we know we should work out, we are pulled to eat pizza, when we know a green plate will make us feel better and we are pulled to scroll over instragram for the hundreds time, when we know we should continue to work on our project.
Basically we wanna sleep, eat and have fun, just like dog.
It´s easy and comfortable and requires no effort.
But we also know that in the long-term it makes us feel miserable, depleted and depressed.
With a misbehaved dog you won´t be able to take off the leash and his muzzle.
You simply cannot control his behaviour without that restriction.
Just like people. Some need to keep all the chocolate cookies out of the house, because they cannot be trusted with them.
Our needs and wants can turn into cravings that do whatever it takes to satisfy them — so we basically run away from ourselves to go get that „thing“.
How can we possibly trust ourselves, if calling us back rarely works?
And to ask further…
If I can´t trust myself, how am I ever able to let myself go after anything? Without a certain level of self-trust how am I ever able to DO anything?
I wouldn´t be able to get into my car, start the engine and drive 120km/h sharing the same road with hundreds of other drivers.
I wouldn´t even be able to cut my vegetables in small pieces to make a delicious dinner for myself.
Think about it, you do all the things you do daily because you bring a certain level of self-trust into the performance. I mean you trust yourself that you won´t cut your fingers while cutting those carrots..do you?
On the other hand, you could ask yourself..
What am I NOT doing, because I don´t trust myself?
What am I missing out in life because of my lack of self-trust?
Maybe you don´t start that business or project because you don´t trust in your own capabilities.
Maybe you don´t ask your boss for a raise, because you can´t trust your level of confidence to stand up for yourself.
Maybe you don´t enter that relationship because you can´t even commit to yourself.
Maybe you don´t join that hip hop class, because you don´t trust in your ability to connect with others. (It´s mostly not about the activity itself, but rather the social aspect — „will I be accepted by the tribe?“).
It is safe to say that in order to experience all of that, we need to build a certain level of trust within ourselves.
Oftentimes, by just doing it and figuring it out on the way we learn to trust ourselves more and more.
BUT, as dogs, we learn and build trust through repetition.
And repitition requires a certain level of commitment and discipline.
We need to create routines and habits so that the new behaviour becomes second nature.
We basically need to train our mind to listen to us, to follow our command.
Just as we would train our dog to do so.
Who doesn´t have that voice that constantly tells you to eat healthier, to work out, to work on that project, to have this difficult conversation, to read that book, to start that cooking class, etc. etc.
But you don´t, or you start and stop. Or you kinda do it, but not really, just to trick yourself that you are not that big of a loser..
We wanna run away from that voice in the back of our mind — just like a dog who keeps running away and doesn´t care if his owner screams his name for the hundreds time. Why?
Because he has no respect for him. He learned that he gets away with it. Nothing real bad happened so far, so why not continue have fun?
And we trained ourselves the same way. We don´t keep our word. We committed ourselves to do smth, but didn´t follow through. We´ve told ourselves not to do something, but did it anyway, without realizing that we are programming ourselves with a belief that life goes on without any real bad consequences — you know..that ugly „grey zone“, where it´s uncomfortable, but not uncomfortable aka painful enough to actually make that change..
We are literally rebelling against our own self-interest. We are rejecting what is actually supporting our self-esteem and self-trust.
We lose self-respect. And that can be hard to admit.
Because we know how shitty that feels to not be respected by others.
But turning our own back against our ourselves? That´s like we make us to our own worst enemy..
So how do we actually start keeping those promises we tell ourselves…
How do we create an environment where our dog aka our inner rebel, actually can run and have the time of his life, but also listens and obeys as soon as we — the owner — call him.
Basically it requires two things: honesty and discipline/commitment.
We need to get really fucking honest with ourselves…
What´s important to us, what do we want to achieve, how do we wanna feel and what kind of person do we actually want to become?
And with that we create structure and a set of rules and routines in order to achieve that new state or goal.
And since dogs, as we know, just wanna eat, sleep and play all day, the leash comes in very handy.. especially in the beginning.
Because he will try to escape.. the world is too tempting.
So.. KNOW his (your) triggers.
Training means you have to take yourself on the leash and pull yourself back from doing things you don´t wanna do. But it also means taking yourself to places, activities and people you do want to experience. Sometimes you just gotta pull yourself into the right direction with that fucking leash.
However…a dog does pull as well.
In his direction.
And it can be exhausting to constantly pull against your dogs own will, when he just won´t calm down.
Sometimes it´s best to just take off the leash and let him do whatever he so badly wants to do.
No screaming, no running after him.
Eventually he will come back stinky and full of dirt, happy to be taken care of again.
Letting go means losing control, which can be an extremely scary thing to do. You don´t know if things will work out. It´s learning to trust, when you simply don´t have trust.
When you stop resisting that pull (that voice), you give yourself permission to trust yourself again.
It´s this, „I trust you when you trust me thing“.
Training is hard work. You gotta be strict and brutally honest, but also let go and not forget to reward yourself,…oh well.
Through training we learn to keep ourselves accountable — in other words, we learn to stay true to what we said we would do or not do.
Only then do we start to build self-trust again and actually gain back that respect for ourselves.
And the moment we can trust ourselves again, is the moment we can safely take off that leash and run into the wide open space of freedom and possibilities, without that noice in the back screaming and demanding all kinds of things of us.
The dog has proven over and over again that he does what we say. Now we trust him. And in turn, the freedom we give him is the best thing he could ever ask for.
We can only grasp what´s on the other side of discipline and discomfort.
It´s not an easy training to go through.
But would you rather live life forever on a leash, dragging your owner uncontrollably around trying to taste life as much as possible, while having that constant screaming voice in your ears?
train. and unleash the [read dog backwards] within you.
Or buy one.
Every time you ask him how you look, he´ll say „WAU!“ (german dog bark)
and sometimes that´s all you need to hear.