This story starts with a dog tale. I wish I could tell you that I enjoy taking my dog Hershey for a walk. I wish I could tell you that after exercising with my four-legged buddy I feel renewed and energized. But this is far from the truth. I dread the walks! They fill me with anxiety! And, it is all Hershey’s fault!
Hershey is my beautiful chocolate Labrador. He is big, sweet, and believes that he was born a lap dog. He is so cute he could make the perfect dog model showcase comfy couches and trending rug designs on those Restoration Hardware catalogs. However, Hershey is a troubled dog.
Doggy Anxiety Disorder
I have unscientifically diagnosed Hershey with doggy anxiety disorder. I don’t even know if the term exists but it sounds right for this story.
Hershey’s symptoms are triggered by my arrival home from work. He becomes a stalker; every step I take he is there. I trip over him, step over him, and the dog doesn’t go away!
The madness escalates when I change into workout clothes. Hershey becomes wild. He bounces off the walls like a pinball. Can you imagine trying to get a ninety-pound pinball on a leash and out the door?
Living Two Steps Ahead
You would think that one day Hershey would get it. There is no need for all this anxiety! We went for a walk yesterday and we will go for a walk tomorrow. But instead of enjoying his time outside, Hershey spends it living two steps ahead of himself.
A normal dog stops to sniff every mailbox and to pee by every tree. But not Hershey. Instead, he races to the next corner, dragging me along through the neighborhood.
The Dog Whisperer Moment
I fantasized about having Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, showing up at my door to work his magic on Hershey. And then it hit me. This story is not about Hershey; it is about myself!
Hershey’s anxiety is the product of bad parenting and bad leadership. I am a horrible pack leader! I think that is what Cesar Millan would say! Hershey has been feeding off my own anxiety and uneasiness about the walks. It is all my fault! Poor dog!
The Everyday Race
We are used to going through so many motions during the day. We get up, send the kids to school, go to work, get things done, walk the anxious dog… over and over, every single day. We go to bed, and instead of relaxing, we worry about all the things that we must get done the next day.
We dream about the must-do list while we sleep and we go over the must-do list while we walk the dogs. No wonder why this poor pup can’t relax!
I finally realized that to rehabilitate Hershey, I need to rehabilitate myself. I need to stop putting the blame on him for his anxiety and take ownership. To see a difference in Hershey’s behavior I need to look within myself, acknowledge my anxieties, and seek change.
Some Things Just Don’t Matter
It is true, I worry too much about things that don’t even matter. From the morning traffic, to work assignments, and in between, so many things occupy my mind! And, I bet that you go through the same.
But, how many of our worries can we control? How many of our worries are even worth the trouble? I get anxious about them all! How silly!
Why worry about the things that are out of our control? And even more silly, why worry about the things that we can control? If we can control them, why worry about them?
The 5-Step Process To Reduce Stress And Anxiety From Your Life
I believe that reducing anxiety in our lives can be achieved by following this five-step process:
Acknowledge, identify, and make a list of your worries and concerns.
Put the items that are out of your control in the “I’ll deal with it later” bucket. Don’t let your worries keep you up at night!
Take control of those items that are within your reach. Act and put them into the “Resolve now” bucket. Everyone’s list of worries is unique, but we can all get overwhelmed by the smallest things. Instead, let’s deal with them!
Whether it is scheduling a doctor’s appointment or getting help with an assignment at work, come up with a plan to take care of it and put it down on your calendar.
Once you have sorted them out and schedule action items, forget about them! If you acknowledge your worries and come up with a plan to deal with them, they will stop concerning you.
This is deep stuff! Calmness will come to your life. Appreciate that feeling!
Understand that to find peace today we need to stop worrying about yesterday and tomorrow. To find joy in the now we need to make a conscious effort to live in the now.
Let’s slow down! Let’s stop rushing through the everyday motions. Focus on what you are doing now and enjoy the moment. Even if it means to be paraded around the neighborhood by your crazy dog!
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