The first is “inertia.” When scientists use the word, they mean it in a strictly physical sense. “Inertia” describes how an object tends to keep on doing what it’s doing. If it’s moving, it will keep moving until something stops it. If it’s not moving, it will sit there until something gives it a push.
The second word is “momentum.” It refers to the fact that once an object is in motion, it’s hard to stop. Momentum tends to build on itself. The faster you are moving, the farther you will move, and the less likely you are to stop.
I realized that these terms don’t apply only to physical objects. As humans, we can also experience momentum and inertia emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. When we move forward toward growth, for example, we build momentum that encourages us to keep moving forward. But we can sometimes find ourselves bogged down in those same areas and our inertia can become like a brick wall. We’re stuck and need a push to get going again.
I’ve noticed that when it comes to dealing with issues with our dogs, we can become very good at building brick walls. I often hear people say, “My dog is perfect, except when…” Except when she eats my shoes, except when he shows aggression, except when I have no control on the walk…
“Except when” is inertia, the excuse that allows us to not move forward. It’s what we tell ourselves so that we can live with a problem instead of dealing with that problem. With “except when,” people can put up with behavior in dogs that they would not tolerate in other humans.
It is much easier for an object at rest to remain that way, because it takes energy to get it moving. What’s easy to forget is that it also took energy to make it stop; in this case, negative energy. The good news, though, is that it only takes a little push to start rolling again.
Here’s the little push. When it comes to your dog’s behavior, what’s your “except when?” Now, complete the following sentence: “When my dog misbehaves, I…” If you finish that with “do nothing,” then you need to get moving again. You need to turn the inertia of inactivity into the forward momentum of productivity. It is never too late for growth, and it is never impossible.