Saying no to people is one of the hardest things for me to do. This is actually hard for me to even write out: it’s impossible to make everyone happy. It’s hard because part of my brain is screaming, “YES IT IS! YOU MUST TRY HARDER!” even as I type. I find myself over-committing constantly. I think most of us were raised to behave in a certain way—to try not to be selfish, to put others before ourselves, to be kind, to try hard to make people we care about happy. None of that is a bad thing, but people-pleasing is an actual problem. It comes from a desire to make others happy (duh). And seriously, does anyone out there really want to make other people miserable? (well actually the answer is yes, but that’s not the point of this).
Sometimes along the way you forget to make yourself happy first.
I think a lot of agility trainers fall into this category. Trainers who cram as much as they can in to the little spare time they have—who sacrifice training their own dogs for others. Who stay late, or rise early. Who stand in the hot sun in the afternoon, or swat away mosquitoes in the evening. Who fall asleep thinking of what might help motivate a dog, or what type of cross might be more efficient for another. Who spend time at local shows coaching, and building confidence in students; not always giving their dog(s) the attention they deserve. Who won’t say no. As someone who relied (and still does rely) on trainers like this… I am forever grateful.
I’m not advocating that we shut each other out—that we stop helping. Far from it. The sense of community that agility delivers is unparalleled in my life (and in many others, I’m sure). But what I am advocating for is that you realize it’s okay to say no to people sometimes, really (oh my goodness, guys, my fingers didn’t even want to actually type that out). It’s okay to stick to your guns—to be “selfish” when it comes to your dogs needs. It’s okay to say “that doesn’t work for us, but thank you,” (it gets easier the more you do it, too). It’s okay that not every system everyone teaches or advocates doesn’t work for you. Instructors: it’s okay to say no every now and again, too. Your students will not hate you. The world will not crumble. You will serve them better when you are not over-booked, over-worked, and less focused on yourself. Funny enough, I’m learning that you can actually have both. You can be an effective instructor and still have time away. It’s okay if you just want time for you and your dog alone—that’s one I’ve begun to practice often
I’m rambling, I can feel it.
Instead, you must say yes to yourself more often. Say yes to happiness. Say yes to laughing more than your fair share, to singing too-loud, to taking your time with what you do. Say yes to adventure. Say yes to more time with your dog (it’s far too short as it is). Say yes to hikes, and sunsets, and sunrises, and long car rides. Say yes to the beach, and the mountains, and the desert.
Say yes to what makes you a better person to those around you, and to your dog.
[Side note, unrelated, but still exciting. Bolt and I traveled to Barto last weekend to compete at our first regional. It was hot (really, really hot). On Sunday he blew me away and won Grand Prix with a stellar time. Standing on a box at our first regional event was just awesome. We’ll be competing at the New England regional in a few weeks in Rhode Island. Then a break. More on that to come, though.
Adventures await, friends.]