We periodically have to set up a chicken hospital in the spare bedroom. It’s a laundry basket filled with hamster bedding, food, water and a space heater. Plus a little prayer hoping for the best for a defeathered chicken.
The first time we needed the ICU was when one of the roosters fell into a stupor after a night of below-freezing temperatures. We thawed him out in the basement overnight and he lives to crow about it to this day.
Last June, though, our big poodle, Rico, started doing bad things to the chickens when no one was looking. Out came the laundry basket when we twice found naked hens shell-shocked and covered in dog spit under the azalea bushes.
I blame Ferdinand, a hateful rooster that used to attack me every time I went out to the yard to feed him. (FYI: Worst. Chicken. Ever. Period.)
The dogs were thrilled to step in to keep Ferdinand away from me.
They couldn’t tell Ferdinand from the rest of the birds, though, and soon chased any feathered thing that clucked or scratched in the back yard.
I can see why chicken chasing would be amusing to a
predator dog, what with all that squawking and flapping and running away willy-nilly.
Rico loved it and committed wholeheartedly to the task.
Sadly for the poultry, a habit was born and ingrained faster than a smoker can say “Marlboro.”
It took months to break Rico of the chicken-chasing habit. Months of close supervision. Months of praising him for ignoring the girls. Months of distracting him (“Squirrel!”) when a juicy chicken strutted by.
Good news for the chickens!
These days Rico gets to lollygag unsupervised in the back yard, right next to the chickens, almost as much as he wants. I trust him, now. Not 100%, though. But close. I’ll give him 99%.
This is how I know it’s possible to change any bad habit.
If Rico can change, so can I.
And so can you.
The first step in changing any situation is to change your thoughts about your situation.
Our thoughts are so habitual and ingrained and automatic, though, the task can seem daunting and monumental.
I don’t know about you, but I catch myself thinking some crazy thoughts sometimes and wonder who hijacked my brain and planted those ridiculous, bag-lady thought weeds there without my permission.
Thoughts like, “Wealth is for special people and I’m just not special that way.”
Or, “I’ll never have enough.”
Or, “It takes money to make money.”
Changing your thoughts seems as doable as eradicating all the kudzu in Georgia sometimes. I like the idea that installing new thoughts and letting go of old ones is like training a dog not to chase chickens.
It takes persistent and continuous effort, every day, in the short term.
- DECIDE RIGHT NOW to change your story. That’s right. You take a giant step forward when you’re clear that you want transformation.
- WRITE a new script for your money story and telling that story in juicy detail to yourself several times a day—tell it to the chickens or the jade plant when your spouse gets tired of hearing it. Just keep telling it and embellishing it and soon that new story will be yours.
- CHECK your bank account every day and FEEL truly grateful for every bit of money that is present in your life right now. As Kate Northrup says in her book, Money, A Love Story, what you focus on grows. How will your money expand if you ignore it? Be brave. Look at what you have. It may be your turning point.
- CHOOSE to focus on what you appreciate about yourself whenever you catch yourself worrying about money and being diligent in your lookout for your habitual low-level dread.
Commit to one of these strategies every day and you’ll start to see more money flow into your life and stay with you longer. Commit to all four, and the benefits will be exponential.
But don’t stop there.
It also takes long term vigilance to stay in control of your story.
I’m 99% sure that Rico won’t chase and chew on hens any more.
There’s wiggle room though. A chance for backsliding. For slipping into those familiar thought patterns and behaviors.
Next week we’ll talk more about long-term vigilance and some strategies for making sure your newfound habits will stick around for a while.
Until then, leave a comment below and tell me…what is one thing you appreciate about yourself that you can turn your attention to today should you start to succumb to your fears and worries about money? For today, commit to flowing appreciation to yourself whenever you find yourself in a state of worry, dread or fear. I promise, beautiful things start to happen when you truly appreciate yourself.