Insert an inconvenience: The scale is on the second floor.
I put a leash on Leroy, and he respectfully walked with me towards the stairs.
You’re a nice dog. You don’t pull too much on the leash.
As I began to climb the stairs I felt the leash became taut behind me. I tried to continue but Leroy wasn’t following.
Hmm. Is he being a brat or is he legitimately afraid of the stairs?
I gave a few gentle and encouraging tugs on the leash. Leroy hit the proverbial panic button!
Insert a problem.
He bucked, he barked, and he tried to bite the leash. Leroy tried to flee, which is a natural response to conflict. However, none of his actions made the source of conflict go away.
The stairs were still in front of him. They looked steep and they certainly weren’t carpeted. And, there were two sets of them. Leroy physically and mentally froze. He laid down.
It was his peace offering to me. It’s a behavior he knows well, and which usually earns him rewards and praise. Leroy attempted to avoid the impending crisis. I wouldn’t let him.
I sat on the stairs, with the leash still in my hand, facing Leroy. After a few minutes, he took a step toward me. The leash went loose. I shuffled my butt up a few more stairs making the leash taut again. Leroy climbed a few steps. The tension went away. He sat down, stuck and frozen in his own anxiety.
Atta boy. At least, you are starting to think.
I continued to work with Leroy, and eventually we made it to the landing and conquered the second set of stairs.
I accomplished my goal of weighing Leroy. A task which should have required about two minutes of my time, took me over thirty minutes to complete. However, it was worth the wait!
All I did, as his trainer, was prevent him from failing.
How did I do it? With patience and persistence.
No treats. No bribes. No annoying “baby talk.” No words of encouragement. No dragging him up the stairs.
Leroy’s mind was like a distressed ship in a stormy sea. He needed a beacon to guide him away from crashing waves, and into the safety of a protected harbor.
I became Leroy’s lighthouse, and I guided his mind and his body to less turbulent “waters.”
The stairs are no longer a threat to Leroy. He is confident in his steps, both going up and coming down.
In my life, I have struggled like Leroy. I’ve been afraid to conquer fear. I’ve panicked and frozen and done everything I could to avoid conflict. I’ve also been afraid of success.
We encounter slippery stairs everyday in our lives. Do we choose to shut down and freeze to the pressure of anxiety? Or, do we think rationally, take action, and climb?
I’ve done both. And let me tell you, it’s a lot harder to climb but the reward of conquering fear and anxiety is worth the challenge!
Sometimes we are like Leroy, and sometimes we can be like a lighthouse.
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.