My Labrador Archie woke me up again last night. He wanted to go out to the toilet. I tried to ignore it for a long time because I didn't want to get up. Eventually I relented and let him out.
It was my fault, I had given him chicken the night before, accidentally switching his dinner with my other dog, Jack's.
Just like in my last blog, this situation definitely presses my buttons. I feel resentful that I can’t get my own space, that it’s 'always me that has to get up and deal with the needs of others'. I don't feel loving towards my dogs at those times. Although I wouldn’t be without them, I have to admit they can be a chore. Part of me is horrified that I can think such a thing. Even more horrifying is admitting to it in public.
Another part of me knows that in order to develop and grow I have to listen to all the parts that are me, not just the ones that are ‘politically correct’ or otherwise acceptable. If I censor the uncomfortable parts, I can’t heal them. I could keep them to myself, but I have a need to be authentic.
Triggers revealing fear
I am triggered by the dogs' behaviour.. It's not about the dogs. The dogs trigger it more easily than others, because of how I feel about them. I am their responsible owner (this is another of those thoughts that I don’t like admitting to and will explore another day). I'm not scared of showing my true feelings to them.
With other people, like family, friends or work colleagues, I don’t let these feelings surface, not even to myself. My learnt social behaviour is to be nice, to be supportive, to at least be civil. 'My family need me to help them.' 'The very least I can do in this life is to help others.'
Underneath that is fear. The truth is, if they don’t need me to help them, I am lost. I will have to find another purpose, like putting my energy into things that are more difficult. I will have to write that book, develop that therapy concept. Make money out of my own ideas.
The problem is not the problem
Recently, Susan, a coaching friend of mine, said ‘the problem is not the problem’. She was talking about the common mistake we can make when we are trying to solve something. We think we know what the problem is but its actually masking something else. For example, if my nagging thought is I’m getting mixed results with my business or writing that book its because I’m not trying hard enough. In my really bad days it's because its a silly idea any way. 'Who do I think I am?'
When I try to get behind those voices I notice a couple of themes, or personal beliefs. The first is ‘life is tough, if you want something you have to work really hard and you might not get it’ and the second is ‘your ideas are really no good, you should stick to helping others’. And the easy way out is to give up and just go through life with no expectations, attending to other peoples’ needs, helping them make something of their life, not expecting anything in return.
I'm describing a personal skill that I've developed from a very young age. To make life easy. It turns out it is far from the trouble-free option. I am getting this insight from the dogs. That I am bogged down with resentment, a feeling of a life that hasn’t been lived to the full, of futility and ‘what’s the point’. I believe it's that frustration that I am projecting onto the dogs in my vulnerable moments when my sleep is broken by their simple demands. That is the 'stuff' that I need to listen to and understand. My dogs know! and act accordingly!
Do you have any uncomfortable thoughts towards your dogs that you are hiding from yourself?!