bonding lessons #11 (aka a lesson in taking a step backwards)

I told you in my last bonding lessons instalment that Spring Fever had left the building, right?

Well as Spring Fever was our nemesis, stopping us from continuing to expand the bonding pen, preventing the bunnies from becoming fully bonded, once it was gone we expected to be on the home straight. Indeed, I even allowed myself to imagine the bunnies free-roaming 24/7 together in our home instead of having to go their separate ways after each bonding session came to an end. I felt I could catch the glimmer of light at the end of our very long bonding tunnel.

And for a while everything was progressing tickety-boo. The bunnies were enjoying loads of cuddles and snuggles. The bonding sessions were textbook sessions without any drama. And, finally we could expand on a regular basis.

As per bonding recommendations, you can expand the pen by about 10-20cm each 2nd consecutive day of 4+hours of bonding and no negative behaviour.

Quickly the pen grew from 9 panels to 10.6 panels, with no incident. However, as we expanded from 10.6 panels to 11.6 panels, I noticed that each day we expanded Bobo got a little stressed and before the end of the session (usually about 45mins before the end, regardless of what time I had planned to end) the humping made a reappearance.

Now, granted, the humping was different to the humping of Spring Fever. It wasn’t, well, so feverish. It happened but it was a lot calmer as if Bobo was just reconfirming his position as top bunny in the hierarchy. Although in saying that it always turned negative as Bobo insisted on latching on to the back of Olaf as he tried to run away.

It also meant that expansion happened every 3 consecutive day rather than every 2nd consecutive day. No biggie. I was still happy that we were expanding rather than staying stuck at 9 panels as we had been for a number of weeks.

However, I also noticed Bobo’s reaction at the beginning of each session where the pen had been slightly expanded. We’re talking about 10-20cms here, not a lot of expansion. And yet Bobo knew something was going on.

However, as things were still moving along relatively smoothly, we kept going. That was until we hit 11.6 panels. At 11.6 panels something in Bobo triggered. It was as if we’d expanded too much too quickly. And he couldn’t cope. Hello, our good friend, humping.

Yep, the humping returned. It was feverish. And it wasn’t just for one day. For 3 consecutive days, towards the end of each session, Bobo suddenly, out of the blue, without warning, burst into a fit of humping.

When you’ve been doing something for over 5 months, even if it’s something you’ve never done before, you start to learn, you start to see things through different eyes. And that’s what I discovered about myself.

Sitting by a bonding pend for approximately 7 hours every day, you pick up a thing or two. And in my gut I felt that Bobo was in some kind of panic mode because he felt the pen expanding too much too quickly. So I made a decision, a decision that I didn’t want to make and that my husband didn’t want either. I reduced the size of the bonding pen back down to 9.6 panels.

And when I did, I noticed an immediate difference in Bobo’s demeanour. He felt calmer. Whilst it didn’t stop the humping immediately, it did seem to calm it a bit. So I took that as a positive result.

And, like all the lessons I’ve learned through this bonding experience and have shared with you, I took it and viewed as a general life lesson.

Sometimes in life you just have to forge forward. Sometimes to reach the end goal you have to dig deep and muster up the motivation to make the final push.

However, there are other times, when the going gets tough, when things don’t seem to be working out, that forging forward may not be the right choice. Indeed, if you choose this path, you may find that reaching your end goal takes longer than it could or should.

Sometimes, it’s important to take a step back, sit with things for a little while, and then proceed forward. Sometimes taking that backward step gives you the ability to see things differently, to catch your breath so, when you’re ready to start moving forward towards your goal again, you can do so more smoothly and more easily.

All too often in life we are taught or are led to believe that taking a step backwards is a sign of failure. That, no matter what may be standing on your path or blocking your way, you need to find a way to forge forward. And so, all too often we battle on, exhausted, to topple over end line. And when we do, we’re usually so down-trodden that we have neither the energy nor motivation to celebrate what we have achieved.

Our biggest life goals and achievements aren’t like 100m sprints or 100yd dashes where you go for it at top speed, attempting to smash through your personal best. They’re more like mountain hikes, with ups and downs, where stamina and a head for heights is key. Where, sometimes you come across an unexpected landslide and rather than recklessly scrambling your way across, not knowing if you’ll make it to the other side or roll down to the bottom of the mountain, you need to take a step back and review your options – do you wait for someone to come along to clear the path as it’s the direct route to your final destination and a little delay is better than going the long way round? Or do you get out your map and plot a new route that’ll take you to your final destination, albeit in a slightly roundabout way?

It doesn’t matter whether you sit it out and wait for the path to be cleared or plot an alternative route, either way you’ll make it (safely) to your final destination. And that, by all accounts, is a success, a win.

And the same goes for our life goals. When you’re met with an obstacle, taking a step back, surveying your options and choosing the best one that will help you continue your journey towards your goal, that is not a sign of failure. Failure is when you forge through, blinkered and possibly reckless, when, if you do reach your final goal, you’re too exhausted, too traumatised by the experience that the last thing you want to do is celebrate.

So, how do you know when to take a step back?

That’s exactly what I’ve posed to the angels.

Viv xx