EMHD Episode 4: A Better Story Makes a Better DogSep 20, 2022
Do you have limiting beliefs about yourself?
Maybe you think that you’re lacking in confidence, that you’ll never have money, that your best days are behind you, or some other belief that prevents you from living life to the fullest. You may also have limiting beliefs that you’re not aware of.
Those are hidden in your unconscious and yet they’re running continuously in the background of your mind, like a computer’s operating system. And they’re interfering with your enjoyment of life.
You can also have limiting beliefs about your dog. And they can negatively impact your dog's life, as well as your own.
For example, you may believe that terriers are difficult to train, that your dog is uncoordinated, dominant, not smart, or some other thing.
When I was a kid, my dad and I trained our family dog, who was a Norwegian elkhound named Zeus. We thought it would be fun to compete with Zeus in obedience trials. My dad was told by countless professionals that you can’t train a Norwegian elkhound. They were “untrainable” for obedience. They also told my dad that Zeus “would never, ever jump.” Jumping over obstacles was a part of the obedience competition, so that would be a problem.
Fortunately, my dad didn’t listen to those well-meaning professionals. He decided to listen to his own dog instead, To Zeus.
Did Zeus want to learn the activities required in the obedience ring?
Did he want to jump over obstacles?
Did he want to use his nose to sort through a pile of objects, select the one my dad had touched and then happily bring it back?
Zeus replied, “Yes, yes, and yes!” My dad, who was well aware of the power of thoughts, didn’t fall prey to those limiting beliefs about Norwegian elkhounds. He made a conscious choice to listen to his own dog instead. You can do that too.
In this episode, I explain how you can get started noticing your limiting beliefs. And how you can start replacing them with thoughts that elevate your life and your dog’s life.
Zeus retrieving over high jump
A TV star! Dad and Zeus before filming a commercial at NBC studios in NYC.
Zeus getting ready for the cameras to roll.
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So, have you ever known someone who just start saying things about their dog that you think, where is that coming from? So in other words, they'll say, oh, my dog is so dopey or maybe they'll use some other word and they'll say, you know, she doesn't, she just can't learn Or my dog is so unathletic.
You know, he can't do anything and they just have these impressions about their dogs or, and very often this is the case. They also have very strongly held beliefs about themselves that maybe they don't even realize, like, they'll think I'm not coordinated. I'm not athletic. Or I can never learn this stuff, or I'm not a good trainer or something like that.
Today what I wanna talk to you in this little episode is how our stories that we, we create them and then we keep them alive. Okay. And we do things to keep them alive, how they can impact our dogs and ourselves negatively.
Okay, So this is something that a lot of people, most of us will just do unconsciously. We don't even realize we're doing it, but we start to have these, these habit loops of, of thought, like we just, even unconsciously, we're saying things in our head over and over again, and those thoughts are then what drives our actions.
They change how we feel. They change what we do and therefore they change the results we get in life. So you see this all the time in the dog world. Where people will have really strong opinions about their dogs. That for example, another person, a stranger would not notice about their dog.
Now you can say, well, they have more experience they're with their dog all the time. And that's true. But a lot of times they've made a determination. They've made an assessment if you will, early on with their dog. And then they find evidence to confirm what they call confirmation bias. It's like my dog is X.
You know, whether my dog is aggressive or my dog is, you know, super dopey or my dog is super smart. You know, they find evidence for that. So let's really think about what stories we're telling ourselves about our dogs and also about ourselves.
Okay. Because this again will affect our relationship with our dog. It'll affect what we do, how we feel, which of course the dogs pick up on. And you know, my, my whole thing is you and your dog deserve to feel great together. Okay. You both deserve to feel great. So really think about what stories You are playing in your mind, right?
Do you think of it like a, like a tape recorder or something that's constantly playing or a, a playlist that you're saying over and over, because we have about neuroscientists say 60 to 75,000 thoughts a day, which is a tremendous amount of thoughts.
And most of them are unconscious. So it's like they're playing in the background. We're not even aware of them, but you can start to become aware of them. Right. You can be more attentive. So, one does pop to the surface in a conscious way. You can think, wait a minute.
Do I want to think that, you know, there's a saying, don't believe everything you think? And I like that. So think, do I really wanna think that, or do I wanna change that and see that from a different point of view? Right? So these are things. So if we use an example of, you might say, my dog, isn't smart, my dog is too hard to train, or my dog is a terrier and therefore can't be trained. Well, that's nonsense. I've had terriers.
And you know that, I'll tell you that's not true. And I've known many other people that have been quite able to train their terriers. So, but, but you start to believe that now there, there are differences between breeds, as far as how maybe certain predilections they might have so to speak, but you know, to make blanket statements like that, you've decided now that your terrier is going to be difficult to train, well, guess what?
That dogs gonna prove you. Right? Okay. Same way. If you think my dog is so smart and so easy to teach that dog will prove you right as well. So you really wanna pay attention to what, you know, some people might call mindset or these stories you tell yourself.
And if for yourself, you think I, I just can't do this. I'm not coordinated enough. Or I'm just not, you know, I'm not patient enough or whatever, whatever limiting belief you have, I would invite you to, to reconsider that and to ask, is that serving you and your dog to have that limiting belief, whether about you or your dog, and then you think, okay, well, how do I change it?
There are actually a variety of ways that you can change limiting beliefs. But one way is to, to simply like dismiss it and to replace it with something that you do want and to find evidence of the new belief, the more empowering belief that you do want.
So let's use the example of, you know, my dog, isn't, isn't smart and he, he's difficult to train. You can ask yourself, is that really true? Is that true? Is it really true? Is there any evidence that my dog is trainable? And maybe there was one thing you taught your dog, right? Or your dog taught you. Right. They teach us all the time.
They're constantly shaping our actions as well. So can you change that? And then when you have that inclination to think of the more limiting belief, can you consciously replace it with the more empowering one? And, and again, bring up examples, bring up and they could be silly little things.
And for example, with, with people, when people have confidence issues and they feel like they're, you know, they can't learn things or whatever I'll often say to them, well, have you learned anything? And they're like, well, yeah. Like, have you learned to tie your shoes? And they're like, yeah, Mary, I know how to tie my shoes.
Okay. Start there. So we're talking about starting really simple. If you've learned to tie your shoes, you've learned something. How did you feel when you tie your shoes? Do you feel confident about doing that? Great. Remember that feeling and then bring that to something that's a little more challenging. Okay. But remember that feeling. So same thing with your dog, you taught your dog. Maybe you taught your dog to sit before you, you fed him.
Okay, great. You taught your dog that now you wanna teach something that's much more advanced, but you have a basis. Right? You have the experience that you were able to train your dog to do something, to teach your dog. Okay.
So this, this short little episode is really just to remind you that there are so many limiting beliefs we have about ourselves and our dogs. And I would encourage you to start to become conscious of them and then get on the path to changing them. And here I'll give you another, a little, little way, cuz like I said, there's a, there are many different methods to changing them.
Some are very involved. I have a more involved process where you really go through all the, like the way you think about yourself or your dog and you can replace each little piece of it. But for simplicity's sake, another way, to think of this is to think that you and I learned this from John As of, by the way, he's written a whole bunch of books. He does a lot of stuff with, the way your brain thinks works. And he says to pretend you are going to try out for a role, like a movie role.
Like you're, you've been asked actually to, to have a role in a, in a, in a movie and it's with a famous actor in the whole bit and you get the script and you have six months to prepare for this role. Okay. You have six months. And if you do it, you get like a million dollars and you get to start with like some famous movie actor.
So how motivated would you be to do that? Right? You'd probably be reading those lines and working with coaches and doing all the things. Right. So you can think of it the same way. What, what lines would you have to tell yourself? Right? What script would you have to read? That would be more in line with your empowering beliefs.
So if like even, and this applies to you as well as your dog, but you could think well for my dog. So let's say you and your dog are starring in this movie or gonna play a part in the movie. Oh, my dog is so easily trainable. Like my dog learns so fast.
I don't even like to use the word train so much, to be honest, I prefer teach, but my dog learned so fast and my dog learned so fast. My dog is so athletic. You know? So even if your dog is 15 years old, but my dog with a 15 year old body is still moving. Right. So my dog is athletic. My dog is coordinated. My dog is really well balanced.
My dog, you know, whatever it is, whatever feeling you want to have about your dog. Can you bring that up? My husband, Gary Wasowski he, he, he, he really dives into the whole mindset thing so much. And he works with a ton of people to help them with this kind of stuff. And he told me something a long time ago that I love, it's like my favorite little bit of advice.
And what he says first comes the feeling than the events to justify it. So if you have a feeling like, like, if you think and feel it's difficult to teach my dog or I'm not coordinated or I'm not confident, or, you know, it's hard for me to learn something or whatever.
Then the events justify that again. It's sort of like that confirmation bias. We believe something and then we find evidence to prove it. Okay. But he really dives into the feeling behind it. Not just the thought, but how you feel. So you have a feeling of maybe you feel guilty about you're not doing enough with your dog or something like that.
Right? You have that feeling whether it's warranted or not, by the way, you can have that feeling. And then, you start to bring up events to justify it, right? You start to create events to justify it. And it's really crazy how that works. Okay. But on the other hand,, it also works the opposite.
If you have a feeling that you are a very kind compassionate, you know, caretaker for your dog, right. Then the events will justify that as well. You will be that. Okay. So remember these stories that we make, right? We make them about ourselves. We make them About the animals in our life. We make them about the other humans in our life.
Of course, we make them about everything, but we want to start to question them to, to really pay attention to what we're thinking and to change the ones that aren't serving us. Because you have to ask yourself, how are you keeping that alive? You're actually if it's a disempowering one for you or your dog, you're keeping it alive.
And can you change that course and create more empowering ones? I hope you enjoyed this short episode. I'd love to know what your beliefs are about yourself, about your dog, and where you would like help with this. You know, we have our free Facebook group dedicated to dogs. I'll put a link in the show notes.
You can join. It's free. And let me know, like, what stories do you have about yourself and, or your dog that maybe are, are empowering or ones that you'd, you'd rather change. Okay. And I could help you with that. So thank you so much for being here. I love sharing this work with you and I can't wait to talk to you again. Bye for now.