News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Scottie worry

People like to say that dogs “live in the moment.” Anyone who says that has never lived with a rescued Scottie. My Scotties are always anticipating the next something; which includes worrying about what is coming next. If I begin grooming one, the other two hide. They also begin to worry as soon as it looks like I may leave them behind when I get in the car.

One of our Scotties hated riding in a car on a winding road. As soon as we reached Tombstone Pass, heading to Corvallis, he would begin to get carsick.

How do you teach a Scottie to stop worrying? You use some of the same methods that work for people. The most important is to help the dogs lose their fear of things. When I groom, I’m very careful to not pull their hair. Additionally, I give them treats during the process. This hasn’t resolved all concerns, but at least now they come to me when I call them for their turn.

Our carsick Scottie got over his fear by us giving him tranquilizers for a few trips. They calmed him down and helped form a new habit. After successful rides that ended in wonderful opportunities to explore new areas, he finally stopped getting sick.

Do you ever worry? If you are reading this and you don’t worry, I would say you are exceptional. I’ll bet you have a wonderful relationship with our Creator too.

Many years ago when I worked with corporations as a motivational speaker I learned that “worry” was a huge concern for management. Productivity was always important and worried employees never produced as well as happy ones.

Studying research on the topic I learned several key ideas for helping people relearn behavior that would reduce or eliminate worry.

University researchers learned several decades ago that the human mind does not know the difference between something actually done and something very visually imagined. This was the discovery, which began the use of visualization techniques in sports training. For example, a basketball player who practiced making free throws physically would make mistakes but if he practiced for an hour very carefully visualizing the perfect shot he could build the habit of correct form faster than when he was shooting the ball and making mistakes.

We know that worry is based in fear. A valuable method of helping a person break the worry habit, and yes it is a habit, is to get them to focus on something positive in their life. Having understood that dreaming is a form of visualization and learning that people tend to dream about things they have been thinking about just before going to sleep, I developed a simple tool to help people become more focused on the positive. I called the tool, “My Win Book.”

It’s very easy to use. You can make your own. Buy a small spiral notebook and put the words “My Win Book” on the cover, placing the book next to your bed. Every night, just before turning off the light, pick up your Win Book and write three things that went well during the day. If you have had a really terrible day, your first entry may be; “I remembered to pick up my Win Book and begin to write.”

Anything positive is a win. As you do this more and more each night you will find that you begin to make mental notes during the day of items you will put in your Win Book. After about a week, you will find it is very easy to write at least three items. By the second week you’ll be enjoying the process and by the end of a month you will notice that most of your worries have gone away.

I’ve actually had people tell me that the Win Book completely changed their lives or saved them from suicide.

The point is to change your life’s habit from focusing on what isn’t working and what terrible things may be headed your way, to noticing all the wonderful things going on in your life.

When you follow up your Win Book habit with thankful prayer you can completely transform yourself. We so often think of using prayer as a way of asking God for help or to give us something. The most powerful prayer is that of thankfulness. If you have any kind of a relationship with your Creator, He knows what you need. So it’s when you begin to say “thank you for all you do for me” that your relationship moves to a higher level.

A thankful heart rarely worries. A thankful heart is filled with God’s love and appreciation of everything and everyone around it. A worried heart is filled with fear, crowding out love and God.

Our Creator gave us a fabulous brain and excellent communication skills. We can use that brain, which is even better than my Scotties’, to build new habits of thankfulness and appreciation. Yes, there are always potentially ominous clouds out there on the horizon but if you look back on your worrying habit, you will find that most of the things you worried about never came to pass and the worry didn’t change anything anyway.

Embrace love and thankfulness and let worry fly away.

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? — Matthew 6:27


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