Have you ever noticed how the way you feel about yourself sometimes depends on whether or not you get confirmation of your value from others? When you enter into challenging situations with a positive self-identity you will discover that you are living your life with a greater sense of enjoyment and fulfillment.
I have learned a lot about nurturing a positive identity of love and appreciation from the man who taught me to train dogs. Dogs and humans both have a “self-identity” that determines the perception of the world, behavior, and one’s sense of self-worth. Let me explain how my teacher nurtured a positive self-identity in the dogs he trained.
Frank had a very fascinating way of helping the guard dogs he trained, to feel respected, protected, and loved, regardless of the situation/context they were in. Here is how he accomplished this. First, of course, he started out by treating his dogs with love and respect and by showing them an infinite amount of patience as they were learning. This of course is crucial.
Then, the next thing he did was a true stroke of genius. He would cut a small piece of carpet for each dog he trained. He would place the carpet in the dog’s sleeping area, for him to lie on each night. He would also take this carpet during the day and set it down in various locations, and set the dog on the carpet, as he praised the dog for being good. Whenever he moved to a new location, he would have the dog stand up, and he would pick up the carpet and carry it to the new location, set it down, sit the dog down, and again, praise the dog for being a “good boy.” Soon the piece of carpet took on the distinct odor of the dog, and Frank said that this led the dog to feel “at home” when sitting on the carpet.
Next, Frank would teach the dog to pick up the piece of carpet himself and carry it to wherever they were going. The dog would then set the piece of carpet down when they stopped, and sit on top of it, with Frank all of the time praising him for being a good dog. Now Frank said, “The dog begins to feel that he truly belongs in every place that he travels to, and no matter where he goes, he receives my love and appreciation. Soon the dog takes on this love and appreciation as the primary core of his identity.”
And I ask you now if this strategy works so brilliantly with dogs, would the same basic strategy not work just as well with human beings? Ask yourself, “What is the small piece of carpet you carry around with you wherever you go?” “Would your life not be very different if you changed your piece of carpet to one of self-love and appreciation?”