We all have fears, some are small and uneventful, and others are bigger, significantly holding us back. I’m not sure where you would put my fear, but I put it in the significant category, as it prevents me from doing something I love – walking my dogs!
Let me start from the beginning, I have two lovely labrador rescue dogs named Poppy and Java (the two in the front of this picture not sitting). They were two and three when we rescued them, so came with some habits which have been impossible to rid them of. Two of these habits are running up to ‘say hello’ to every dog they see and to chase after every cat, squirrel or leaf blowing in the wind.
The good news is that the only part of the walk that I’m fearful of is the 5 minutes each way when I’m walking to and from the fields. It’s here that if they got off their leads they could run into the road and possibly get hurt. If you’re a pet owner, I’m sure you can imagine the fear this causes me.
You’re probably thinking, no biggie, just keep them on leads until you get to the fields. Which is exactly what I do, but what I failed to tell you is that I am all of 5’0” tall, so even on leads, it’s almost impossible for me to hold them back. I’ve tried, and my entire village has watched in amusement and/or terror as I’ve been pulled off my feet trying to hold on to them!
The way I normally get around this is to walk with my dog-walking buddies Sue or Lynn, but they were both on vacation this week. So I could either skip the daily walks or be brave and overcome my fears, which, as you can hopefully see, were substantiated fears.
What did I do, I went for it, and walked my dogs ALONE!
The good news is that both my dogs and I have survived the walks, and in fact, we’ve even enjoyed them. Here’s what I learned, which I wanted to share to help you overcome any fears you may have:
Don’t feel you have to jump in with both feet
For my first walk alone I had my daughter walk next to me until I got to the fields. This gave me the confidence that if I had a problem I could count on her to help me. She was then on call to help me should I need it on the way back, which I didn’t need as I decided to be brave and do it alone.
Focus on your strengths
One of the reasons I decided I could do this was because of a talk I heard last week by Daniel Pink. He spoke about how important it is to focus on your strengths and not to let your weaknesses hold you back. So I focused and thought about my strengths – I’m smart enough to get out of a situation and brave and nice enough to ask for help from a stranger if I need it. By focusing on these, and not letting my mind focus on my weakness of not being very strong, I was able to overcome my fear – thanks Daniel!
Have a plan B
Have you ever seen a superhero or spy who is able to see two, three or more steps into the future. Well I thought like a superhero, and looked into the future by creating my plan B. If I see another dog coming at me here, I’ll go there, if I see a cat, I’ll start playing with them and get their attention off of the cat. By having a plan B, I felt I was in control of the situation, making my fears and the situation less terrifying.
In ending, let me tell you that I had an unexpected benefit from this situation, which was thinking time. Since I normally walk with someone else I don’t have time to think as we’re always chatting. Here I was in a beautiful field in the countryside, with my dogs running around having a fabulous time, and I could think. In fact, that’s where I came up with the idea of writing this blog.
So my advice is to go out there and overcome your fears. As with me, it will be a work in progress, but that doesn’t matter as long as you’re taking that first step. Or in my case, taking that first walk with your dogs!