Clean Run - August 2019 - 33

Mental
Management
Minute:
When Your Neighbors
Are Negative
By Brenna Fender

By now, most of us have heard about how important it is to have
a positive mindset when competing in agility. Positive thinking
about the judge, your handling, your dog, and the course you are
about to run can have, well, positive effects on the outcome of
your run. But, how do you remain positive in a trial environment
when people around you are being negative?
Protecting your positive outlook can require some effort on your
part. One of the best ways to do that is to avoid people who are
being negative. The psyche often accepts spoken words as truths,
even when the listener has good reasons to believe they are not.
Surrounding yourself with positive (or at least quiet!) people can
make a big difference in your outlook on the day's courses.
If you've been in agility for any length of time, you've probably
figured out who the Negative Nicks and Nellies are. Don't crate
near them, don't sit with them in the stands, and don't hang out
and talk with them before your run. You don't have to be rude,
but you can be busy, volunteering, or otherwise engaged at the
times when you might encounter them. If you are sitting in the
stands with them, go to the bathroom and never come back. Get
"distracted" by something else, go check on your dog and take
him for a walk, get a snack, check on your score, go sit at ringside
to "get the handler's view," do anything other than sitting there
and let them pollute your thoughts with their negative words.
Negativity can be contagious; don't catch it!
The same is true if they seek you out. Prepare your excuses on
your way to the trial so when Nancy Negative stops to dish on
how the judge is really hard on contacts and "have you seen that
awful weave pole entry," you can excuse yourself to do something
that she can't join you in doing. Dealing with your upset stomach
is one option (is that too gross?). But it might work out just as
well for you to say that you're trying out some new mental
management techniques to help with your nerves and you need
August 19 | Clean Run

to go and spend some quiet time with your dogs at that moment.
The key is for you to be prepared ahead of time so that you can
escape without too much stress.
What about when you are walking the course? If you can't
escape the negativity on a crowded walk-through, wear earbuds
and listen to music. Focus intently on your walk-through as if
you can't hear the other people and most people will let you do
your own thing rather than stopping you to spread their negative
news. If they get in your face to talk to you, you can smile with
a blank look and point to your earbuds. If they are so rude as to
insist on speaking to you anyway, you can tell them that you have
had some trouble planning your runs/remembering the course/
focusing on your handling lately and so you are trying something
new, "so sorry" but you can't chat.
All of these are techniques for protecting yourself from the
negative talk in non-confrontational ways. It's perfectly okay and
right and reasonable for you to say to someone, "I'm trying to
avoid negative talk right now," rather than to provide an excuse.
While people might find it surprising, you aren't making any
judgments about them. You're just talking about yourself. But if
you aren't comfortable about that kind of confrontation, it is fine
to use an excuse. The important thing is that you take steps to
protect yourself from negativity.
Sometimes people are negative about other people and their
dogs, or, heaven forbid, your dog. My advice is mostly the same,
although you can always stand up for those who are being
insulted, or say that you'd rather not speak negatively and make
your exit. Yes, those same people might then talk negatively about
you, but at least you know you're in good company. And, who
knows, perhaps you will make them think a little about how what
they say affects others.

33



Clean Run - August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - August 2019

Contents
Clean Run - August 2019 - Cover1
Clean Run - August 2019 - Cover2
Clean Run - August 2019 - Contents
Clean Run - August 2019 - 4
Clean Run - August 2019 - 5
Clean Run - August 2019 - 6
Clean Run - August 2019 - 7
Clean Run - August 2019 - 8
Clean Run - August 2019 - 9
Clean Run - August 2019 - 10
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Clean Run - August 2019 - Cover3
Clean Run - August 2019 - Cover4
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