“Okay, but when you’re petting a nervous animals, don’t lose eye contact with them,” she said, as the conversation finished.
From then on, my brain processed this. A simple sentence that was probably common in training. But something felt so wrong about it in my brain.
I wanted to quit. Was it because I didn’t like being told what to do? Of course not, I’d been training until now, and been fine.
What was it?
It was that I had this figured in my head a certain way. And I knew that if I changed to the way she wanted me to think about it, I would be acting on rules, that would make me appear stiffer, and make the situation so much harder.
That’s why I quit my absolute favorite thing in the world, before. It stopped being ‘the thing’, and became a list of rules. I wasn’t enjoying it, I was just constantly forgetting and breaking one rule or another.
I was not allowed to experiment, and the rules were all I had to go off of, and if I should forget to follow just one, “death would come” was the threat that hung over me.
What was different with the last place I did this same exact thing? Restraining animals – some who’s last experience with humans had been traumatic, some who’d never been handled by humans, and so on? What made that very potentially-threatening place not a list of rules?
I am scrappy, apparently. I think on my feet. I take in a large amount of information, and am better at reacting than being proactive.
So was the person I worked with. She was more of a get in there and do it kind of person and so we would both do it, and stay safe, and get the animals what they needed.
That large amount of information I want before acting, also comes to be a disadvantage – people misunderstand my knowledge gathering for any number of things, and today, it came in the form of the rebuke.
It’s completely counter to my way of thinking to think, “I have an animal here who would like to bite me, maybe. Let’s turn away our eyes, AND take our hands off.” Like… no.
If I keep my hand on his back half, he can’t bite me before I react. But if I take off my hand, he could bite me and I’d never see it coming. It’s an information gathering.
Trust the person holding the leash? I’m sorry, is that a foreign language?
I realized I’m very used to doing things on my own. And as a family, we are very used to doing things on our own. We know it’s stupid to not accept help, but the truth is, very few people have wanted to help us. So, I’m used to jumping in and lending help wherever it’s needed.
I like that about us.
Taking a step back and letting others do things is something I can do, but I’m ill practiced.
And, when, as “they” said it’s a matter of life or death, I don’t really want to put that into someone else’s hands. Literal hands.
So it ate at me… But still, why?
Because I knew that I want to follow her advice, because she is training me, and I want to be a good listener. But either it becomes a rule that I will forget, and then follow, and then have to be running words through my head when I’m trying to do something intricate, or I will not follow it at all.
Those are bad options!
So, I decided to visualize it.
It bothered me so much imagining losing eye contact with the animal and not keeping contact with it so I knew what it was thinking, feeling, and whether it was behind me ready to attack.. and keeping contact with a potential threat is not an instinct I want to lose, so I decided to visualize it in that spot. All other spots I can stick with instinct. But in that spot, the “spot” being the place I’m being trained at, my first go-to must be to “remove eye contact, remove hand contact”.
I think this will help.
If I go with my instincts, I’m usually pretty close to helping well. It’s when I start trying to follow rules and things that I become weaker.
But some instincts are made by rules. I didn’t learn to go around the back-end of a horse, petting them the whole time, by instinct. That was ingrained by practice, observation and verbal re-instatement. So, I want to be open.
But the interesting thing, is it does seem to be that the less I have to check-in with people, the stronger I am.
I have a store of examples to fall on. I gather them subconciously from the environment, from movies and TV, from the other people I’ve seen in my job, but I am not sure this explains it wholely.
I can plunge into a situation, and handle it myself, and just make it up as I go along. [<– one of my favorite things!] But if I’m told, “This has to be checked by me” and “Don’t do this without asking me” or “Ask me if you have a question about this kind of thing” – each successive thing makes me weaker.
But, it’s a very good idea to have me be able to ask questions, but the truth is, in that you are not seeing the strongest me.
In holding an animal I will follow my instincts. I’ve learned that that usually works best. I also have to observe A LOT, and learn the rules. But, it’s so annoying when you follow your instincts and then are told to go opposite them, and when you do, something bad happens, but then you’re like “It’s not my fault, but it’s totally my fault”.
In summation – ie. what my head made as it’s “This is what we learned today, and this is your game-plan” paragraph: To do my best at my job, I want to gather information and I want to improvise/use my intuition, so visualizing counter-intuitive (to me) rules can help me with this, while still being a good listener, and helping the best way I know how – by thinking on the spot. 🙂
Meanwhile, Rimfire is sitting beside me – he is so cute! *squees internally*
Do you prefer on the spot, or pre-planned when you are working?