Dogs are great people trainers.
Those of you that have dogs know this already, but my girlfriend and I have been learning it over the past few weeks with a new Whippet/Lab mix. It’s amazing.
A dog will try to exert dominance over you again and again. If you don’t react appropriately, the dog realizes it has power over you. It doesn’t respect your authority because it’s getting mixed messages. The dog wins.
People are also great people trainers. They teach you how to treat them. They test you to see how you react, often without even knowing it.
I have a great story about a girl I know whose boyfriend had cancelled on her one night. She didn’t know what to do, so I suggested she call and say in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t acceptable.
She did this. He showed up with flowers.
I don’t know for sure, but I imagine kids are great people trainers too. If they whine and get a sugary treat to shut them up, they will detect a pattern and act on it. We teach them to do this. Am I right?
Confidence is a circular pattern. It will reinforce itself in either direction, heading either towards zero or infinity, until it is regulated by an outside force. Whatever outside force stops it is an outpost of dominance, a kind of flag that says “beyond this point, you shall not pass.”
These flags eventually start feeling like walls, and these walls impact what decisions you make about your life.
Maybe this is the reason you stopped playing guitar, or stopped working out. This may be why you haven’t quit your job, I don’t know. But the reality is that these markers of confidence are just as fluid as the relationship you have with your dog. They are fluid. They can be changed.
We act as if our life right now is the way our life is supposed to be, but you could just as easily be a CEO as you could be a janitor or homeless… or dead. But you happen to be alive, and you happen to gave a fair amount of freedom in your life.
Maybe it’s time you exerted it.