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© 2019 by Denny Balish

  • Denny Balish

How to Train Your Puppy Brain

We all do it. At one time or another. Yep. We get down on ourselves for stuff we did or didn’t do or could’ve done. We chew on it over and over until our mind begins to run amok. We stress out, loose sleep, get ornery. Argh!

At times like those, we need to get a grip! We need to break the negative thought pattern to which we have become so habituated.

Transforming our negative thoughts is a lot like training a puppy. Let me explain.

If you have ever had a puppy, or know someone who has, you probably know what I mean. Until they’re trained, these sweet fur faces piddle on the floor, dump wastepaper baskets and shred whatever their little razor sharp teeth can find.

You can’t blame them. Puppies do what they do because they don’t know anything different. That is, until we teach them.

Several years ago, whenI brought my well-meaning but naughty puppy, Cutie Pie, home, an epic battle of the wills ensued. She chewed my shoes, my books, my rugs…even my coffee table. Nothing was sacred!

At first, I would nearly loose my mind when I caught her in the act. I’d yell at her, thinking this would stop her. Yeah, right! Cutie Pie just thought it was a game and began tearing around like the crazy-wild-insane-little beasty she was looking for even more things to chomp, including my toes!

I was desperate.

After some quick Puppy Training 101, I changed my approach. Coming upon my little “Kali, the Destroyer,” I would firmly say “no!” and replaced the object of her chew with something much more preferable, like a bone or a squeaky toy. This made her happy because she had something fun to chew. It made me happy because it stopped her from devastating my things.

Overtime, with enough repetitions, Cutie Pie learned to chew only on her bone or toys, and peace was restored.

It works the same when training the brain.

For instance, if you find your inner critic (a.k.a. the naughty puppy) causing you grief by “chewing” on negative thoughts over and over again, you can train it to STOP!

Here’s an example near and dear to my heart. It goes something like this (me to myself): “Boy, that was a really stupid thing to do! Why did I do that? Geez, how dumb!”

Instead of feeding into the negativity by perpetuating it, I lovingly but firmly say “no” and give my puppy-brain something better to chew on, such as a positive affirmation, like: “OK, that wasn’t my best but I am learning from every experience I have.”

By intervening on our behalf, we steer our mind away from negativity and toward the truth of our nature—that we are all perfectly imperfect beings striving to heal, grow and evolve through love and gentle guidance.

So, when your “puppy-brain” begins gnawing on something you did or didn’t do or could’ve done, firmly, and with kindness, tell it to stop. Then give it something better to chew on. In time, your “puppy-brain” will become your loyal, loving companion.

Chew on that!