But what if I can’t?
Worries about not being able to do something hold so many people back. I’ve met people who don’t even start doing something that would change their life because in the back of their mind is a little voice that says ‘it won’t work’ or ‘who do you think you are to try and do this’. I’ve met others who will tell themselves that they don’t have time to make changes – even if all they need is a few minutes a day they will tell themselves that. Other people allow striving for perfection to keep them stuck where they are. “Unless I have a perfect training setup for my dog, there is no point in even starting”, they’ll tell themselves. Some use money as their blocker – “I can’t afford help with my dog” they tell themselves before getting ready to go out for an expensive meal with friends or ringing for a takeaway and buying a nice bottle of wine to go with it.
If you recognise yourself in any of that, don’t worry – you are completely normal. This stuff happens because change is hard – even if that change is wanted, it is hard. If your dog’s prey drive is driving you insane you might be thinking “Oh no Tracey – all I want is easier walks with my dog – but nothing works.” That might be true but carry-on reading. The stress in all change comes from the discomfort of learning something new and the worry that it might not work. Those feelings are horrible, and our brains and bodies work hard to protect us from anything horrible. So, when you think “I’m going to do this new thing – I think it might help” you will often be shot down by your own thoughts as they try to keep you from experiencing the stress of making changes.
I’ve got a great little trick you can try. In 2020 I was trying to decide whether I should leave safe, steady work in financial services to work for myself helping people with their dogs. I had some counselling about it because it was a tough decision to make. One of the things that the counsellor suggested was thinking about other times in my life when I’d done something daunting, worked through the discomfort and gotten to where I wanted to be. Even simple things like making a difficult phone call count in that exercise. Then, when I had the list, when my brain would come along and tell me why working for myself would never work out for me, I would get a post it and write down a sentence from one of the times when I had done something hard and had it work out. That exercise really helped – and has continued to help me this year during all the scary times when my brain has screamed at me to go and get a job and a steady income. Give it a go. Dig deep, think of times when you’ve been successful and then use those examples as a way to talk back to your brain when it wakes you up in the night to tell you about all the reasons there are to stay exactly where you are right now.