So if a dog bites you ONCE, will you never trust a dog again?

Well, sometimes that’s exactly what happens.

Let’s pretend you’re two years old and a big black dog bites you.  That’s quite scary and traumatic for a little toddler.  Without fully being aware, that little person creates a belief system and might conclude that all big black dogs must surely bite.

As they grow up, they adjust their lifestyle to exclude big black dogs.  It sounds harmless, right?  What’s the big deal?  It’s not that they’re saying all dogs bite, they’re just saying big black ones do.  They start to internally negotiate – “I like white dogs, spotted dogs, brown dogs.  I will love all dogs of every colour and size.  I will even love little black dogs – but not big black dogs.”

Sometimes we choose to believe in something without challenging it, without really asking ourselves where did this belief come from?  And why are we hanging on to this belief so strongly?  We create internal negotiations with ourselves.

The dictionary defines ‘negotiate’ as:  find a way over or through (an obstacle or difficult path)

“I will like dogs, but just not big black dogs.  [Does that work for you?]  Yes, that sounds reasonable to me.  That means I can still love dogs, and I’m technically not missing out on that much.”

You can choose to negotiate based on a fear experience – or – you can overcome your fear, diffuse it, remove it and carry on with confidence.

Rudy, is a 10 year old labradoodle.

He is loving, affectionate, gentle, kind, loyal, fun, chilled, and one of the greatest furry friends on the planet.

I like taking Rudy to the ocean and watch him play in the water.  It’s adorable and he’s over the top happy!   “Throw the stick, Karen.  Throw the stick.  Throw it again, Karen.”

When I’m standing he loves to lean into me.  When he sees me, he does his happy skip.

He’s a good and gentle dog.

But one problem – he’s a big black dog.

Ruh-roh.  Now what?

If I believe all big black dogs bite, I wouldn’t know what it felt like to crawl up to Rudy while he’s basking in the hot summer sun, wrap my arms around him, feel him tap his paw on my shoulder and breathe deeply.  In that moment, Rudy and I are enjoying a special moment.

Why do we make a decision to not trust big black dogs because of having one bad experience?  Why do we choose to play it safe to avoid potential pain that we don’t even know will happen, but just in case, we don’t want to risk it?

Let’s take it closer to home:

  • Maybe you’re afraid you won’t be able to retire?
  • Maybe you’re afraid you’ll never pay off your debt?
  • Maybe you’re afraid of love?
  • Maybe you’re afraid you’ll never find your purpose?
  • Maybe you’re afraid you’ll never lose 20 pounds?  
  • Maybe you’re afraid you’ll forever be stuck in a job that exhausts you and sucks the life out of you?  
  • Maybe you’re afraid you’re not good enough?
  • Maybe you’re afraid of public speaking?
  • Maybe you’re afraid to make a decision regardless of other people’s opinions?
  • Maybe you’re afraid to live with regret?
  • Maybe you’re afraid to not finish (or start) writing your book?

How does that fear help you?  What benefits do you get from keeping that fear?

Whatever the fear is, whatever the ‘big black dog’, it’s not true.  We can’t base life decisions on one story.  One encounter.  One moment.

I’m not dismissing or discarding the difficult story you experienced.  What I’m saying is, a story doesn’t define you; it’s a season in time.  A story is something we experience that can influence our identity, but does not define our identity.

A story creates wisdom, not fear.  Please, don’t assume, don’t jump to conclusions and don’t cancel out something entirely because of a fear based memory.

“Excuse me is your big black dog friendly?
         Why, yes he is!  He’s so gentle.
May I pet him?
        Yes, he loves to be petted.”

Doesn’t that sound more true to you?

So, what’s really going on?  There’s a story in your history’s pages where this seed of fear was planted.  The fear grew up alongside all your other wonderful qualities, hiding amidst the greatness.  That one fear is irrelevant to your success.  Please stop giving it attention.  Challenge your fear, remove it and carry on.

Fear based stories jolt our confidence and empower doubt.

What I have learned over the past 15 years is this:  confidence is the secret ingredient to every goal and every desire and every hope you have.  It’s in confidence you’ll find your strength and your boldness.

Do not base your life around a fear-based story.  It will only produce futility.

“Karen, you don’t understand, it was really hard times.”  

I believe you.  I believe that it was very scary and very difficult.  And, that’s ok.  I respect the impact the story had on your life.  Are you willing to let it go?  And replace it with confidence in what you hope for?  If that fear-based belief is not getting you to where you want to go, then would you consider challenging your beliefs?

What if I told you that you could replace old thinking with confidence?  And what if i told you that when you invest ‘all that fear energy’ you carry and invest it in confidence, it will propel you forward in empowering ways?  Would you consider it?

Love from me to you,
Karen

Karen Thrall
Human Catalyst | Business Coach-Consultant