If you’ve ever read my blog before, or have taken a walk through my website, you probably know quite a bit about me. You know that I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, beautiful but brrrrrrrr cold today. You know that I’m a holistic life coach, that I believe it’s impossible to compartmentalize our lives all that much. And you probably know that I live with a dog. Not just a dog, but a DOG. Indiana, who was named for the movie character Indiana Jones, is a very good representative of the boxer breed. He’s a very pretty boy, with a wonderful smooshy face that actually smiles when he’s happy. Energetic, friendly, playful and loving, he’s also lazy, sweet, cuddly and communicates his happiness or disappointment very clearly. It turns out that Indy also teaches me, on an almost daily basis.
Recently a friend of mine visited. Along with her came her wonderful vizslas. Her boy is named Tugger and her sweet little girl is Max. Now Tugger and Max had never been to my home before, so while they were enthusiastic to go somewhere new they were also a bit shy about meeting a new friend in a new home. Indy was just beside himself. He’s usually very exuberant about meeting new dogs and while generally polite, has been known to offer a few boxer punches to get the play going. Apparently this time, Indy was able to understand the caution of his guests. What followed was very interesting and once again reminded me of some very clear lessons.
All of the dogs went into the backyard. Max and Tugger began exploring but ignoring Indy. Meanwhile Indy went into serious play mode. In the doggy world, it’s polite to ask another dog to play and then to wait for a response. This is what an exuberant Indiana did. He ran all around Tugger and Max, he offered play bows and then waited at a polite distance for a response. Indy tossed his toys their way and did everything he could to entice a game of chase or wrestling. Meanwhile, Max and Tugger became more comfortable with the yard and house. They got closer to Indy but didn’t engage in play. Eventually, all three dogs came into the house and settled into naps in the same room.
Why did I tell you all of this? Besides telling you that I’m very pleased about my Indiana showing good doggy manners, I also think that the dogs were demonstrating very clear lessons. Indy was offering friendship and playtime, he even offered his toys. Max and Tugger were a bit shy but still friendly and very polite. They did not snarl or growl, they simply told Indy that they weren’t quite ready for that kind of closeness. None of them took it personally! For me, that was the lesson. It sounds simple enough, but it can be quite hard to learn and even harder to actually practice.
Here we go, life coach lesson time. Don’t take anything personally. When Indy made the offer to play it was not accepted by Max or Tugger. That didn’t have anything to do with Indiana personally; it had to do with their not being familiar with the house, yard or Indy. Indy didn’t take it as a personal rebuff; he simply understood that they had their own stuff to work through. Wow! It sounds simple enough, but it’s really huge. Did you ever say hello to someone who didn’t respond? Or who didn’t respond in a friendly manner? It’s tough sometimes to remember that we have no idea what’s going on in that person’s life at the moment. Maybe they have a problem that they can’t shake, maybe they simply didn’t hear. We don’t know. At the same time, if we take it personally, we might have our feelings hurt and we could become angry or sad. Why? It had nothing to do with us personally. When we are able to realize that what others say and do has nothing to do with us, that it really is all about them, going through day to day interactions becomes much easier.
So, next time you are in the grocery store and someone is rude or unfriendly, try not to take it personally or to respond in kind. Keep in mind that that person may have something heavy on their mind and let it go. You’ll feel better and you will not have done anything to make the other person’s day worse, you may well have helped them to feel slightly better in your neutral or kind manner.
That’s it. Once again Indy and his new pals reminded me of a very simple yet very powerful lesson. Don’t take anything personally. Thanks, Indy, Tugger and Max, I really appreciate it.
Wishing you a fabulous day filled with simple, sweet reminders of this lesson.