I used to care what they were all thinking.

On any given day, my inbox is filled with messages like the following: 

Hey Gary - What you say on your YouTube channel really resonates with me. It got me thinking.

Hey Gary - Your podcast made such a difference for one of my dogs. Thanks to you and your guest Brandon.

Hey Gary - A friend shared your video (thanks friend!) so I caught your Facebook live stream. It made me have a “uuuhhh duuuuhh” moment right there staring into my iPhone!! 

Emails, messages, texts, and calls like this give me the courage to continue voicing my beliefs. So thank you from deep down in my guts.

Unfortunately, there is another common email I get which evokes a different emotion in me.

Hey Gary, thanks for making your videos. I get what you are saying, but what I’m concerned about is all the other trainers are going to think I am crazy. OR - all my peers in the dog training circles will think I am weird if I stop doing (insert dog training term here.) OR - when I’m with colleagues next time I… 

I think you get the gist of what these emails are like.

And if you know me, you know (Spoiler Alert!) my tone is about to change. 

Who the HELL cares what your damn peers think? Why seek approval from folks who don’t:

A- pay your bills
B- pay your bills
C- PAY YOUR BILLS

It’s eye opening to see how many folks struggle with peer acceptance.  

I’m going to time travel with you now. Stay with me. Eleven years ago my wife and I had a Shih Tzu named Sammy.  

I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew is that for some reason when people came to visit she ran upstairs (under the bed) like there was a meatloaf tree growing for her endless enjoyment. 

We found peace by hiring a local behaviorist in NJ, and since then I have been fascinated by what dogs are thinking, and how my lack of preemptive early education caused the problems she was suffering from. 

After spending a few weeks regaining her trust and understanding the ways we created this problem, I decided to go all-in on learning dog communication.  

From that experience, my deepest passion emerged - to be an advocate for the dogs. Dogs don’t choose us. I listen to story after story where the dog is labeled the bad guy. The owner doesn’t realize their best intentions created those problems. I’ve been that owner.

Going forward, I don't care what anyone says, comments, or dislikes who doesn’t like my beliefs.  At least that’s how I bullshit myself to get the intestinal fortitude (Gary Vaynerchuk quote I love) to press send, upload, or have a discussion and not stress about the repercussions. And just so you know, whenever I post something (big gulp), it takes me hours to go back and look at the comments. I am, well, scared… I guess. 

People will disagree with me or make generalized irrelevant comments, and I struggle with that. But it took amazing supportive people (just like you!) to give me the courage to speak out when I felt ready. 

For me, the dedication to the mission of “saving dogs lives” is more important than an emotional Facebook dog professional’s input, or the comments of a naïve pet owner, if just one dog or owner can be helped. And, let’s be honest, if those folks were so confident in their methods and ways - they wouldn’t be listening to me anyway! Once I found my way, I stopped participating so much in online dog groups and chats that are filled with peers. It’s more important to stay in your lane, keep your eyes on your own paper, and farm your current knowledge instead of always hunting for more and more.

Anyone whose motivations vary from mine doesn’t even come up on my radar anymore. I found peace and realized that changing peer’s minds isn’t my job and a waste of a valuable non-renewable resource - my time. I’d rather be at the beach with my family, or making content and engaging with you. 

I have spent years, tens of thousands of dollars, plenty of time listening and thinking, driving miles and miles away from my family, learning and practicing, and I am not letting anyone else’s opinion change the promise I made to myself and to you.

I will fight for the voice of all dogs, and help interpret what they are thinking. The 'consequences' will sort themselves out. Remember, everyone acts from their own level of consciousness. This is all we can ask of ourselves or anyone else. However hurtful someone is, they are doing the best they can given the limits of their present consciousness. 

I’m done anxiously seeking approval in an attempt at try and gain/keep a sense of control. Maybe you are, too? I’ve learned that no amount of making people 'happy' - by being what we imagine they want us to be - will remove the fearful feelings of being rejected, abandoned, or an outcast.

I looked at the dog groups I was participating in and it reminded me of an article I read in Psychology Today about pack mentality. In the article, it explains that humans are often motivated by status. And in these groups, the ‘leader’ decides what is right and wrong, and the followers comply to impress the leader, or because they are afraid of the consequences if they don't.

Ultimately, disapproval fails to deliver what it threatens. When the 'bomb drops,’ you learn there is no bomb. When you let people disapprove of you, and cease to worry when they do, a whole new world of personal possibility opens before you. It feels good to be free. 

So, what do I recommend? If you think something is right you should be proud to say it. Use your voice. 

Look at what’s happening all over the country right now. I often think: what if Malcolm X or Dr. King were silenced by what people thought? What if Dr. King never had a dream?

It takes the support of each other to create the courage to stand for what you believe in. 

Is it easy? Nope. 

Will people laugh, judge, and talk… maybe. Probably. Think of it as your own personal fan club. Anyone who is brave enough to use their voice can expect some backlash. (Even Meryl Streep has a hate site. Meryl Streep! Who hates Meryl Streep?) 

But let me tell you the relationship that will form with your dogs is well worth it. The look of “you get me” is humbling and rewarding. I often think about why I originally got into this business in the beginning. It was the fascination of the unknown. Why did they do that? Why did she pee there? Why does that dog lay there, and the other over there?

Dogs are amazing and capable of amazing things, and I want people to understand that. I want them to be listeners to their language, observers of their movements, and a voice for the voiceless. 

I have each and every one of your backs if you need me. I appreciate your support. 

Head rubs and belly scratches

Gary

P.S. Is there anything I can help you create to express your voice? Has starting your own podcast or newsletter crossed your mind? Do you want tips for videos or live streams? Email me. 

Elijah SzaszComment