A gentle leader approach
It was truly much easier than I expected.
I’m referring to my new walking regiment with Grace. As noted in my last post, I made a commitment to have Grace comply with my walking standards instead of hers. Rather than having her skip along in front of me, I asked her to walk beside me. I literally used those words: “Walk beside me, Grace.” (I also held the leash taut.)
And generally, she did! We usually walk about two miles, sometimes a little less, and there is ample time to reinforce the behavior (hers and mine). As we walked, I could feel the pressure from the leash as she tried to move ahead, but it didn’t take much to bring her back and it definitely was not a battle.
This new way of walking clearly required my attention and focus. If the tension on the leash loosen, she started ahead of me.
On Day 2, at one point I realized she wasn’t pulling at all. She was willingly walking beside me! It wasn’t 100% of the time, but certainly there was progress. I had a flood of thoughts racing through my mind, ranging from frustration that I had waited so long to do this to delight that I had moved it forward.
It was so much easier to take action after I had publicly made the commitment here on the blog and that’s important to remember; telling others your goals is a great motivator. But I realize that two days of successful progress doesn’t mean we’ve met our objective; sustainable efforts will require a long-term undertaking. Yet it’s important to celebrate progress.
I’ve walked this road with Grace for several years and it would have been much easier to keep on walking the same old way. Rather than beat myself up for not doing something I know I should have been doing, the best thing to do is to acknowledge that I’ve made that first step. When good change happens, it’s always better late than never happening at all.
Do you have things on your plate that you are ignoring or avoiding? Acknowledge it, tell a friend that will support you, and be gentle on yourself. Taking the first step may be easier than you think.