Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How to gain more confidence (it's easy when you know how!)

A few weeks ago I had a dog expert come around.  I think it was actually more about training me than training the dogs :)  I decided it would be good to ensure I was doing the right thing for our new rescue dogs given that they had come from a compromised situation (he told me he thought they weren't abused, just not socialised at all and handled the least amount possible).

One of the biggest pieces of advice I got from him was that I needed to expose them to new experiences in order for them to gain confidence and not be so scared of everything.  (You can read more about our little rescue-Griffons here.)  I had it completely around the wrong way: avoiding taking them anywhere and protecting them from the world until I felt they were able to handle new experiences. 

I can now see that this was never going to happen.  By taking them out for, say, a car ride and a walk in a park where they'd encounter adults and children, other dogs, car noises etc would scare them a little at the time, but done regularly they would get used to it and thus build their confidence.  It would be stretching their comfort zone a little at a time.

So far Daphne has been out to lunch (where she napped in the car since it’s not too hot here at the moment) and then for a walk along a beachfront path, another day to the auction house I go to for a viewing and to visit my Dad and his dog for lunch at home.  Chloe has also been to the actual auction on a separate day (the gavel made her jump a bit!) and for a beachfront walk with a friend and her two big but gentle dogs.

He also advised to take our dogs out on separate jaunts so that they'd not be so co-dependent on each other, plus they now sleep in separate crates at night (not our closet anymore...)  They have progressed a lot in their confidence lately, and I’m so glad I had Dogman come around (that’s his business name!)

This concept that I had backwards also made me think of us as humans: it would equally apply to all of our situations that we thought we had to wait for something.  Do small amounts of the scary thing and build your confidence levels that way.

Imagine you wanted to write a book.  Many ladies write to me that this is their secret desire but they’ll never do it because of (insert reason here).  Mostly it’s because of the fear of not being good enough or 'what will people say?'

But imagine if you took small steps anyway, just like Chloe and Daphne (although they don't really have a choice like we do).  Every day or every few days do something about it:  write 500 words, look at images online and imagine what your cover would look like if you ever published, research self-publishing etc.

By taking small steps that feel a bit scary (but not too scary), you’d expand on what you perceived your comfort zone to be.  It’s certainly worth thinking about, huh?

Here are two very happy little rescue-Griffons yesterday, running in our paddock (camouflaged by Autumn leaves).  Chloe on the left is completely off-leash, and Daphne on the right has her leash trailing.  It means I can grab her if she looks like she’s going to bolt, plus I think it makes her feel more secure.

This off-leash business has only happened in the past couple of weeks; before that I would have been too terrified to even try it, but Dogman gave me confidence and I also felt that the time was right to trust my girls.  So far so good and I know it will only get better.

I also realised last night that Daphne doesn’t bark at my husband when he gets home from work (which she was doing every night) if I clip her leash on just before he arrives.  Mostly this stops her barking in a scared way, but if she does I pick up the leash and she stops.  It’s like her security blanket.

What could your security blanket be for your big scary desire?  Often for me, it’s a soothing mantra.  In the case of writing a book, I’d say ‘I don’t need to publish it, I’m just writing for me’ and this totally calms my scared mind.

So far I am more than half-way through my newest book ‘Thirty More Chic Days’ – I have twenty out of the thirty chapters completed, and the other ten half-written.  Once I publish this post I’m diving right back into the book.  I’m so excited to have it finished as soon as possible after the editing.  Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to hear when it is available!

And, what small thing are you going to do today to stretch your comfort zone?  Please tell me.  I'd love to hear :)


PS.  If you have always thought about writing a book, I offer free writer’s encouragement where I send out emails with all my tips, resources and gentle - but pushy :) - motivation to inspire you to write.  Even published writers have written to me saying they’ve gotten a lot out of these free emails.  Talk about high validation; I was thrilled!

You can join up here: http://eepurl.com/c0kN39

PPS.  Just for fun, here's one last photo of Daphne playing with her toy raccoon.  She's got her legs out the back and sitting up on her elbows.  Sometimes when she's really playful she will pull herself along on her front paws dragging her back legs behind her.  Soooo cute and silly :)


  1. Fiona your posts are so true both for humans and animals. I'm am planning my first solo overseas trip later in the year and would not have had the confidence a few years ago. Small steps have made this possible. Love your writings and your cute pups. So nice to see them gaining confidence.

    1. Thank you Pieta, and best wishes for a wonderful trip!

  2. Very insightful post, Fiona. I totally agree that you need to constantly push gently at your comfort zones in order to grow. I have been following a wonderful blog about an Autistic girl, Iris and her beautiful cat, Thula. Iris's mother has been pushing Iris into more adventure and interaction with other children, and the World, and has in the last year taken her to the rainforests of South America and recently to Greece. Iris adapted well beyond expectations and gained so much in confidence.

    1. How beautiful, Melissa, I will search out that blog, it sounds wonderful!

  3. You aren't the only one to perceive parallels between training animals and training people. One of the best stories I've ever read was in the New York Times "Modern Love" column: What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/fashion/what-shamu-taught-me-about-a-happy-marriage.html
    The only way to grow is to leave our comfort zone. A step at a time, it gets easier and easier.

    1. I'm sure many have written about this before me, definitely! Thank you for the link. It rings a bell for me from an Oprah magazine a long time ago and I look forward to revisiting that article soon :)

  4. Hi Fiona! We have a TV program here called "The Dog Whisperer". I don't know if you've seen it, but "The Whisperer" very gently points out and then demonstrates how dogs need to feel comfortable and safe to behave appropriately. It has always seemed to me that people have the same needs and we often bark and attack, or shrink and hide when we feel uneasy. (Not me, of course - HA!) It's an immensely helpful concept. My act of shaky stretching is to sign up for your writer's encouragement e-mails. Over the years I have thought many times of writing "something" besides my regular journaling. At times I have have even had specific topics in mind. Those topics now feel uninteresting to me and I have nothing new in my head now that I potentially have more time for a project. Sometimes I read my old journals in search of a specific date or event and I say to myself, "I can't believe I wrote that". However..... all of your above rationalization applies to me. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us. I just wanted to be more chic.... now maybe I want to be more substantial too. Enjoy today! XO

    1. I loved watching the Dog Whisper when it was on here (Cesar Milan?) I have his book on Kindle too and have been reading it to get a few tips.

      Keep going with your writing, Karen, and brainstorm potential topics. There's a lot on that in my course, but hopefully you should get inspiration on that in my free emails, or google 'how to come up with writing topics' etc.

      It's fun to read old journal entries and see how much you've grown, yes? And equally, I can read something I've written a long time before and it could have been yesterday :) Some things take time!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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