A week ago, I enjoyed a training session with the most adorable puppy. Energetic, bouncing all over the place, easily distracted, and incredibly sweet- typical for a puppy. Prior to my arrival no restrictions were put into place, so the puppy had free run of the household and he learned to “run it” pretty quickly. The first few days were relatively easy but, as you might imagine, chaos ensued.
The family’s pretense that they had just brought the most well-behaved puppy into their home was shattered and they were now at their wits end. Quick implementation of management strategies to prevent the puppy from having free run of the home alleviated much of the problematic behavior they were experiencing. The puppy was restricted to the large open kitchen where they also put a newly purchased crate. A leash was used to take the puppy in and out for potty breaks. A tether was installed in the family room and a dog bed was placed near the couches so the puppy could join them in the evenings while they relaxed and watched tv.
We established clear boundaries and implemented a solid routine. The new limitations and schedule for the pup will yield faster results in housetraining, prevent damage to some beautiful furniture, and will allow the family to step up their leadership role as they work to teach their puppy good manners. I believe limitations and boundaries for puppies and children are a very good thing. Establishing tight boundaries early, which you can expand later, is a much easier task than trying to reign in a wild pup down the road.
Imposing limitations is good for your dog (and your children). Putting limitations on yourself is not.
Earlier this year, I decided (out of the blue and much to the surprise of people around me) to write a book, Fur Covered Wisdom. During the process of writing, I never once doubted my ability to take the project through to completion. However, along the way I became cognizant of areas in my life where I had established self imposed limitations.
It is impossible to live the best version of yourself when you limit your thinking and beliefs on what you can accomplish. In a peculiar way, there is something self reinforcing or even comforting when you limit yourself- it’s safe. As we get older, it becomes easier to accept life as it is because moving beyond the barriers are often difficult, scary, and possibly painful.
In a way, we are like a dog behind an electric fence. We willfully choose to remain in our “yard” despite yearning for what lays beyond. It is the fear of the pain caused by an “inevitable shock” that prevents us from crossing the threshold. It’s not until the pain of not experiencing what you want becomes greater than the comfort of complacency, that a person is driven to “break through the boundary”. For example, when the pain of not being able to wear the clothes hanging in your closet becomes greater than the immediate gratification of eating that Christmas cookie, you will find the motivation to start an exercise and diet program. Or when the pain of missing out on family events becomes greater than staying in a job you hate, you will get over your fears to choose a new career path or start a business you have been thinking about.
On the back cover of my book, BOLO as a puppy is shouting out- “fetch a life worth barking about”. What the heck does that mean? It means from this day forward, the words “ I can” need to replace the words “I can’t”.
If you are ready to get out of your way and bust through those self imposed limitations to create a quality of life you truly want to experience, here are a few suggestions to move you into action.
- Prove to yourself you CAN do anything. Do something you have never attempted before. Put yourself in the position of learning a new skill (dance, piano, or train for a marathon, learn a language, become a toastmaster).
- Listen to how you speak to yourself. The words “I can’t” stop you dead in your tracks and the words “I can” propel you forward, so make a list of what would happen if you actually did take action and what would happen if you did not.
- Every belief is in your mind. “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” ― Napoleon Hill. Think bigger. Look at your goals and double or even triple them. Who cares if you don’t hit the target, but imagine what your life might look like if you got close.