It’s that time of year again when Christmas lights are beaming through the darkness, making our long dreary evenings more heart-warming. Houses that might otherwise go unnoticed blaze with individuality and character. I especially appreciate those who obviously put a lot of time, effort and imagination into creating spectacular displays – even those that “spew” lights all over with joyful abandon speak to the festive personalities within. Such people are not afraid to have fun, to draw attention to themselves, to shine their light[s] in the darkness around them. They embody letting one’s inner brilliance shine through with creativity and confidence.
This is Carlie’s first Christmas so we have been working on exposing her puppy mind to these new sights and sounds. Being an especially sensitive dog, she tends to react with uncertainty in novel situations. As part of her ongoing training, Shirley Lynn has taken her to Waterloo Park as well as our local neighbourhood Christmas display to experience this holiday tradition up close. But still her alarm bells rang on a recent evening walk when ‘new’ lights shone in the distance – Who put those lights there? They’ve never been there before. Make it go back to how it was before. I’m not sure this road is safe to walk on… [Both she and our cats would disagree strongly but I think she could be part cat!].
Not one to be redirected easily, we have found that Carlie moves through the situation quicker and more successfully if we stop to acknowledge what is distressing for her and then ask her to engage in other activities she knows well and likes to do. On this evening with two people we could play a fast game of recall (back and forth come when called) interspersed with some of her other learned skills like touch and paw. In little time at all Carlie had regained her confidence and the bounce was back in her step. [I imagine her eyes had a sparkle in them too, but that’s hard to see in the semi-dark.] She was able to look at the lights again and see that they were not a threat after all.
As I was reflecting on this scenario, I realized that feeling confident helps us face and overcome many of life’s challenges and uncertainties. It’s okay to feel cautious in new situations but we need to have strategies in place to help us navigate them with confidence. Take a moment to think about how you initially react in a novel situation. What strategies do you use to confidently move through the experience? Or is this something you need to work on? Why not make an appointment with Shirley Lynn today to fine-tune or build your confidence skills – you can say that you won’t run around for liver treats! That’s called boundaries.
This holiday season I invite you to pay particular attention to the light displays in your communities and reflect on the sense of fun, creativity and confidence they emanate. Turn on these gifts within yourself and please remember to express gratitude to the giver who helped re-light them.