As a professional dog sports coach and teacher, part of my role is to prepare my students for the rigours of competition, including what the test requires and also the challenges their dogs may face.
However there is another part of the conversation that I often have to have, and its not one I enjoy.
They say that competition brings out the best and worse in people, and it is the small minority who act negatively that I have to ready my students for.
Recently, I have had a student have some success in our sport, who has also become victim to malicious rumours and ill intent. This has come as a shock to this person, as prior to this, those same people were showering her with compliments and praise. It is a bitter pill to swallow, when those that appeared to lift you up, now want to tear you down.
Unfortunately, this is the nature of the beast. Competition really does bring out the best and worst in people.
I have also read of my friend and peers having Facebook groups set up, specifically to mock and ridicule them, even making comments about their physical appearance. And criticising aspects of their lives that crosses the line, by anyone’s standards.
Even, I have been the ‘victim’ of negative energy, but in this instance from individuals representing a governing body.
However when you scratch beneath the surface of those malicious comments and ill placed views, it is rarely about you. But always about them.
This is often the case when you find yourself victim to negativity.
As a new parent, I am constantly thinking about my daughters future and the person I want her to become. One of those biggest objectives is to teach her to have compassion, empathy and kindness towards others.
However along the way, she will develop insecurities and inadequacies that I can only hope, her early upbringing can counteract, by given her strength, confidence and self belief.
But there is a danger that, she may project her own insecurities, inadequacies and shortcomings onto others.
I am sure that with the prevalence of social media and its ‘power’, has exaggerated this pattern of behaviour, and in my previous vocation, I dealt with numerous cases where this pattern of behaviour gathered far reaching momentum with serious and dangerous ramifications. The extreme out comes being physical altercations, violence and worse.
I can only hope to educate Neave that our words and actions have weight, and whether we are conscious in our intentions or not, they can hurts others.
Developing an awareness of what energy we put out into the universe is a process, and one that many have yet to undertake.
Sometimes the best choice is to take the higher ground, and sometimes the best response is to say nothing and let your example silence your critics. But there are the rare instances when sometimes, just sometimes you got to let someone know…. this is acceptable, I wont allow this behaviour, so stop. Now! Sometimes you’ve got to say No. How you choose to articulate that may vary, but standing up for what it right takes bravery and courage. We only have to look to Hollywood to see that. This can ignite a flame for others to follow. It may be a lonely path to tread at first, but I assure you, you won’t be alone.
But like all things, life is a journey and everyone has their own path to travel. This isn’t about judging anyone, but perhaps instigating a different thought process.
When you put out into the Universe, something that may hurt another, and having malicious intent in doing so, the greatest damage you are doing is to yourself. There is a proverb which says something along the lines of, feelings anger or negativity, towards someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. That toxicity will implode, or manifest itself in your own life.
Being a reinforcement based trainer doesn’t just end in at the training field, it should extend to all areas of your life. I am
Human, and I am far from perfect… but i endeavour to treat people in a way I would want to be, and I would treat my dogs.
Dogs accept us regardless of our flaws, and shortcomings. They forgive us, love us and adore us despite our imperfections. Surely we should aspire to be the person our dogs sees as as?
And even if you’re not a ‘doggy’ person, maybe you should take a leaf from their book.
Being kind and considerate shouldn’t just end at the way we treat our dogs, but each other 😉