October 10, 2012

What’s Your Mutt?

A few years ago, I went to the ASPCA with a friend who was getting a dog. I was not. This is, of course, why I left with a dog. Overall, it’s turned out better than most impulse buys do. (Needless to say, that’s an understatement– he’s the light of my life.)

One of the many interesting things about moving through the world with Seymour is how often people we meet see characteristics or aspects of their own dog in mine. Over the years I’ve been told he’s partially everything from a Dachshund to a Miniature Pinscher to a Beagle to a Doberman to a Rottweiler.”

Why is this interesting to you? Because it’s likely you are doing the same thing when you meet new people—not thinking they are part dog, but projecting certain qualities or characteristics on them based on your own background, experience and preferences.

If what you have projected makes you feel like running toward them with outstretched arms, that’s lovely. If, however, you find yourself taking an instant dislike to them, this might be something you want to look at, as few people merit our instant dislike (unless, of course, you see them kicking their dog, then all bets are off.)

In fact, you may be seeing some aspect of yourself in them. Generally an aspect you’re not entirely comfortable with—and that’s a nice way of putting it.

Speaking from my own experience, sometimes I meet people who (shockingly) don’t seem that excited to meet me. But then I remember that while I can certainly be an A+ charm school student, I can also be (in moments of stress, exhaustion, and—gasp—self-involvement) completely personality-free.

I’ll be honest. I don’t love this about myself. It’s something I’m working on.

I’m also working on noting when someone brings up my crazy and asking myself, “Is it possible I’ve exhibited this quality on occasion?” In this instance, for example, is it possible this person is just stressed/tired/ involved in a distressing family or personal situation?

Acknowledging that the quality I’m not loving in someone else is usually one I don’t love in myself generally reaps two rewards: I feel kinder toward them and— seemingly improbably—I feel kinder toward myself.

Which goes a long way toward quieting the beast within.

Frances Cole Jones

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