Confession: I’m a recovering perfectionist. I work hard every day to break free of the perfectionism chains I’ve carried for far, far too long. I’m not recovered. And I try not to beat myself up about that, too. That a recovering perfectionist feels shitty about not being recovered is pretty comical; it’s what makes her not yet recovered, isn’t it? If you’re confused right now here is a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert that might help:
“I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more that a deep existential angst the says, again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.”
My whole life I have heard that voice. I don’t concern myself much these days about why I heard that voice, or why I sometimes still do.
I know now that effective behavior change is not about the why, it’s about what to do instead. When I hear that voice now I shut her up and I replace the laments of never enough with this mantra: just do the next right thing. That phrase isn’t mine and I don’t know the origin but I heard it first from Glennon Doyle. It has done so much for me that I share it with humans I love all the time; and I’m sharing it with you, the dog people of the internet, for a pretty specific reason today.
You know what will never be perfect?
Your accessible decompression walk spots.
Your dog’s diet.
Your training skills.
You know why? Because nothing ever is.
I think a lot of people are paralyzed by their perfectionism (fear) when it comes to some of the things I suggest in dog care. So if you are worried that your decompression walk options are not good enough, that your ability to feed a fresh food diet isn’t good enough, or that your choices in training aren’t good enough replace that line of thinking. Replace it now by instead asking yourself, what is the next right thing?
Sometimes attaching a long line to your dog’s harness and letting him zigzag a soccer field is the next right thing. Sometimes researching and finding what you think the best processed food is, and feeding that most of the time, is the next right thing. Maybe the next right thing is to take a break from your current sport and pursue another one for a while. Sometimes the next right thing is to take a break from training entirely.
Bonus: every day you can ask your self what the next right thing is and get a fresh answer.