Even if you are a “glass half full” kind of person, you would probably agree with me that we live in a fairly negative society. We are constantly telling each other what we’re doing wrong or that we need to fix this or that. I know every workplace is different, but you’ll probably also agree with me that we often overlook or forget to thank those who are doing a job well done, especially at work.
There have been some personnel and management issues at my day job, and at the core, this negativity is one of the problems. I have some pretty amazing compartmentalization skills, but sometimes, it just gets to be too much. I spend 40-50 hours a week at work, so it’s inevitable that certain things stick with me and bleed into my personal life.
This week is one of those bleeding weeks.
There has been a lot going on at work. I’ve been exhausted. I have this weird kink in my neck (probably related to stress), and I’ve woken up with a headache about 2 days this week. So, to put it simply, this week sucks. The annoying, negative things are overtaking me right now, and just like with many dogs trained aversively, I shut down. I shut down, and I sleep and avoid life. Sometimes I’ll make delicious food, which probably reinforces my shut down state. It’s a bad cycle, but hey, at least I recognize it. Once I’m a few days in and recognize it, I can usually snap out of it pretty quickly, thankfully.
It’s Thursday now, and earlier today, I was looking over Buster’s training plan I posted on Sunday. How much do you think I stuck to it, given that this is a particularly crappy week? The beauty of having a training plan in place is that it’s super easy to change things around any given day depending on what’s going on. Sunday was a successful day, even if it was cut short by a ginormous Copperhead snake and baby fawn that was trying its hardest to get Buster to chase it. Monday, we did some successful work with the flirt pole and DS/CC with the nail trimmers. Tuesday we worked on exercising and conditioning, and Wednesday, I worked on his tugging and left turn heeling. We aren’t going to club today, because it’s too hot, so I may just do some more Dremel stuff inside this evening.
Have I done awesome and has it been a super productive week? No, I won’t lie to myself. Have I at least actively (this does not include snuggling) done something with Buster every day for at least 5 minutes? I sure have. So guess what, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not doing too bad. In fact, I will venture to say I’m doing just fine. And, before you say, “5 minutes? That’s not very much” – active training sessions should only be about 5-10 minutes long, at the absolute max. That’s just science and how dogs learn and process information. Your dog does not want you working on that boring heel position for 20 minutes straight, trust me.
Despite all the negative thoughts running through your head, I’ll venture to say that you’re doing just fine in life too. That is the beauty of a training plan – I could easily swap things around, and even during a crappy week, I can still easily see the positive outcome and the good things that I did do. This is your gentle reminder to stop beating yourself up. We all lead busy lives. We all work full-time to earn an income so we can live, on top of taking care of our homes, children, pets, and hopefully, ourselves, even though this is the thing that’s usually last on the list. So instead of thinking of everything you’re doing wrong or how you could be doing something better, rearrange your thinking, and think of the 1-2 things you did right, even if it was slightly difficult.
So in the grand scheme of things, you’re doing okay. Remember that.