petting dog

While we shouldn’t rely on others to form our personal identity, it just feels good to know when we’ve done good.

Praise. Approval. Applause. A smile. A note of thanks and appreciation. A tip of the hat. An awesome review. High five. A hug. An “A+” or “3 Cheers!” for something we worked really hard on. You know the feeling, don’t you? It’s glorious.

We live in a world where the (mis)belief of not being “good enough” runs rampant. A culture and a society that starts to condition us from a very early age. Telling us who and how to be. Defining our “American Dream” for us.

The problem with this is: we each come into the world pure, open, loving and with a certain type of special sauce only we have. We long to follow our own dream, to feed that very thing that makes us feel most alive; but are consistently told that what moves and fires us up inside “isn’t going to make us a living”. We won’t “make any money” or be successful. We begin to doubt ourselves. Question our worth and value. We feel empty and unfulfilled, and develop coping mechanisms and numbing tactics. We spend our lives working soulless jobs, building someone else’s dream, all because we were conditioned to believe that what we had to give wasn’t enough.

When we have someone in our corner, someone who truly believes in us; that kind of support begins to chip away at all we’ve been programmed to believe about ourselves, what we have to offer, our value and our place in society. Chunk by chunk, bit by bit.

Positive attention and recognition reassures us. Builds confidence. Improves our self-concept and esteem. Makes us feel supported, appreciated, and approved of. It’s no different in the dog world, and especially holds true for shy pups or dogs lacking in confidence.

Encouragement goes far beyond highly valued treats and food. Know thy audience, know thy dog. Know what motivates, excites and brings them joy. What type of “paycheck” is worth the effort.

Reassurance, appreciation and praise goes a very long way, regardless of species. Anything that serves as an outlet or conduit for positive energy and positive intentions can be felt and understood. This is the type of stuff that permeates all limits, barriers or boundaries.

Make it a daily practice to show appreciation, praise and acceptance for yourself, your dog, and those around you. Not only is this a powerful practice, but a valued approach.