Overcoming mental hurdles in Human Pup Play
In the First Collar Training Mind I gave you an activity to start creating a pupspace - that part of your mind devoted to relaxing and being a human pup. First Collar Training Persona further explored the creation of that pupzone in your head. Second Collar Training Mind and Second Collar Training Play develops it all further. Before reaching that pupzone, you will probably encounter some mental chatter holding you back. It is natural for anxious thinking to occur, and I am going to give you pointers on identifying and overcoming it so that you ease into pupspace without battling and stumbling.
Forewarned as to what an inappropriate thought is, you can dismiss and overcome them easier.
There are many thoughts which could be classed as anxious and distracting, but for simplicities sake we are going to use five common ones here. Use these labels to help yourself dismiss and overcome the negative thinking.
It might be that you find yourself thinking a lot about what other people think. Whether it be your partner - "what will they think of my pup play?" Or your pack mates -" will they accept me or like me?" And the most common, your Owner and Trainer -"Does he really want me as his pup?" You can rationalise way that it's a "genuine concern", but the truth is it is a waste of mental time thinking it. Stop thinking of what others think, because without telepathy you can't really know. Instead focus on receiving the positive feedback from your Trainer.
Living in the future
It is one thing to anticipate with curiosity and happiness a new experience. It is quite another to predict the worst in your head. You can find yourself trying to think about everything that could lie ahead and you tend to assume the worst possible outcome. You can bullshit to yourself that this is simple preparation for the future. It isn't. It's negatively hamstringing your ability to enjoy the present, so avoid any anticipatory thoughts that aren't ones giving your pleasure and hope.
Something goes wrong, it is the end of the world. Every negative outcome, every setback is a disaster. You may think you are honestly seeing your failure to achieve something but the truth is you are being a drama queen and magnifying something way out of proportion. Setbacks and failures are good for learning. They allow us to practice and develop and acquire the skill properly and appreciate what we have accomplished. Blowing a mistake out of proportion only hinders learning.
Similar to magnification, this is where you assume that any mistake means total failure. If you can't do it right straight away, then clearly you are a failure and not meant to be a pup. Or so that is true if you are being foolish and falling prey to this type of thinking. It is patently ridiculous to believe you will excel at every pup activity immediately. Thinking rationally you can understand that it is natural to make mistakes while you are learning.
Struggling to focus your thoughts as you are anxious can happen. The best thing to do is stop trying to think at all, and relax your body. The FCT Mind activity is excellent for relaxing and helping you concentrate on getting into the pupzone. If you find that thoughts are zipping through your mind in a rapid stream of almost uncontrollable worry and concern then you must arrest that flow. You can't learn anything with all that noise going on.
Being overwhelmed with human thoughts, particularly anxious ones, will happen in pup training. You can develop a strategy to fight against the pernicious ones. You will find yourself making excuses for how you think. When you make an excuse, ask yourself
am I making excuses that presume a bad outcome is going to happen?
am I exaggerating the truth?
can I find evidence that actually contradicts the excuses in my head?
can I think of pups, of people, to whom my excuse doesn't apply? Seeing that it doesn't apply to them, ask yourself why should it apply to you?
am I trying to predict the future with negative thinking when no one can ever know the future for certain?
It is important to question the excuses you give for thinking the anxious thought in the first place. Be brave pup, and take it on. Don't do the following
Avoidance - you do any other activity rather than face the fact you are having trouble thinking and relaxing into pupspace. Clearly not going to help you enter the pupzone.
Whine and complain - sounding off on a forum about how hard it is only gets a few stupid fools reinforcing your avoidance and making you feel justified. Don't whine about having to enter pupspace because that complaint only makes it worse for yourself, annoying others and sending a negative vibe to the pack. Be quiet rather than complain. You can quietly and reasonably tell your Trainer of your difficulties and be directed properly.
Seek reassurance - you may think that asking for a cuddle or a pat is the right thing to do when you are nervous and having trouble entering pupspace. But it is not. The joy of the reassurance is short lived, and a crutch that will only make things worse as you won't want to try and do the mental work alone. Cut the apron string rather than cling to your Owner and Trainer to enter pupspace.
Try too hard - if you push yourself too hard and feel anxious about your progress into the pupzone, you can make trying to dismiss anxious thoughts harder. By pushing too hard, by trying to use "willpower" you are adding pressure to the thoughts to return with a vengeance. They need to be let go, ignored. Not resisted.
What is written above is hardly exhaustive of all you can think, of all the hindrances to entering pupspace in your head. But they are common ones. and if you acknowledge them, note them for the anxious thoughts they are, overcome excuses to keep thinking them, you are likely to have a much better time.