I’ve Been Thinking about Thinking...
I marvel at the simplicity of dogs. When I look at people, however, I struggle with their complexity. Groomers are creative people at heart; most of us prefer animals to people and it’s easy to understand why. Animals are easy to read, but people? Not so much. When dogs crouch with their tails tucked, ears flat, and big wide eyes, we know they’re insecure and afraid. When people are insecure and afraid it’s not always obvious--they exhibit varying degrees of fight or flight behaviors--sometimes both. When creatives haven’t developed a strong sense of self, haven’t accepted ourselves as perfectly imperfect, and use others as a mirror for self-judgement, it’s a recipe for self-destruction. I don’t take it personally when my dogs slink off to bed instead of watching Well Groomed with me; and I no longer take stock in what other people say or do. How much time do you waste analyzing others instead of trying to better understand your beautiful imperfect creative self?
Creatives are powerful in groups. If the Three Little Pigs managed to build a house strong enough to keep the Big Bad Wolf out, then together we’ve got a fighting chance at giving that wolf a fabulous deshed and outline trim, too. It would take all of us to get the job done (he’s big and bad after all); some of us would walk away with hair splinters, broken shears in hand, soaking wet and scratched to hell, but we’d get it done.
Collectively, that’s what groomers do--we persevere past fear--because our art, our passion, and our deep need to create beauty in a world that’s often ugly, is stronger than fear. It’s when creatives are alone that the story takes a different turn, and we deem ourselves incapable or unworthy of success and happiness. Groomers train pets to enjoy something that’s unnatural to them, the grooming process, and it’s very rewarding when they jump on our tables with tails wagging. We can also train ourselves to accept what we perceive to be flaws within us and embrace and love ourselves.
We all have fears and imperfections so we might as well invite them to unpack and move in the guest bedroom. Creative people are usually empaths who feel and internalize things very deeply and stagnate when we’re not mindful enough to tend to the parts of ourselves that need the most work. We should become mindful of things we’d rather avoid because it’s the only way to find internal peace. Do you really want to go through life afraid of both failure and success? Nobody wants to doggie paddle their way through life...it’s exhausting, and you’ll get nowhere! Imagine how wonderful it would feel to be comfortable being uncomfortable, to embrace fear and use it as fuel instead of as an excuse to maintain the comfortable status quo of your life. Evaluate the reasons why you haven’t entered a competition, colored your dog, put your face on social media, taught lessons or sought out educational opportunities. If you’re not fulfilling your goals because you’re afraid then that’s exactly why you should be doing them! Remember a time when you’ve done something outside of your comfort zone and the thrill that came after you pushed yourself past initial fears; let that exhilaration become your focus and soon enough you’ll find yourself chasing success!
Mindfulness is simple; just start thinking about your thinking. Kobe Bryant believed that fear, anxiety, and insecurity occur when our imagination is stuck in overdrive. It took some time, but I learned how to change my thinking and self-perception. When I catch myself falling into negative thinking habits, I literally shake my head like a dog shaking off water and tell myself to knock it off. I remind myself that my feelings are my choice, that I’m responsible for them, and then I breathe deep and choose happiness. They say it takes two weeks to break a habit: letting your emotions spin out is a habit you can change, too. Pay attention to your negative inner thoughts catch yourself when they begin to spiral and shift your thought pattern to one that empowers you. No one feels your fear but you; no one feels your insecurities but you; no one feels your jealousy but you; and no one feels the love you have but you! Think about this: if someone dislikes you, you’ll never know unless they verbalize it. And if they do...so what? Only they feel their hate; you do not have to internalize others' negative emotions. Thoughts are intangible and only have power if you give them a free ride on the merry-go-round inside your head! Train your brain to choose healthier thoughts and inspire yourself!
Think of life as an episode of Food Network’s Chopped where four chefs compete to create incredible culinary delights with a basket of obscure and unconventional ingredients. We all have a metaphorical basket of unknown things inside us when we’re born as we grow through and experience life, the negative ones show up, especially if we’re feeling inferior, scared, or unworthy. That, however, is precisely when creatives should be the most mindful of our human complexities. That’s when the artist inside of you should recognize what you have to work with and create a masterpiece! Accept the mystery ingredients that make up who you are, embrace that you are an artist, a creative spirit that’s free to be flawed, and create beautiful things even when you’re afraid. Your best work will be done when you’re doing what you love, in the way you think it should be done, and especially if it’s terrifying. Comparing yourself to another groomer’s accomplishments, what they say or do, or how many trophies they’ve won is wasted time because, in the end, there can only be one Chopped champion and that champion should be you.