|Photo by Krisiey Rocha Salsa|
I was recently at a dog park enjoying this unity of others. It’s beautiful to observe a pack of dogs all running together, having never seen each other moments prior. Although in a quiet and more solitude state, I enjoyed watching the differences of the dog pack and human packs that were formulating. It reminded me that although we crave solitude, space, and time for reflection, we can’t deny the need to be with others. When I got home my dog, Buzz, anxiously rubbed against my leg and looked at me with concern. I wasn’t sure what happened as our walk home wasn’t anything out of the usual. However, once I looked at his leg I knew why he seemed concerned. My motherly instincts kicked into high gear as I tried to clean a large and deep wound hidden under his white fur. I began comforting him by saying, “shhh..shhhh…you’re ok”. With a slight smirk on his face, my boyfriend kindly asked why I kept saying that to him? He didn’t understand why I was telling my dog he was ‘ok’ when he obviously wasn’t. I continued my motherly duties as best as I could while increasingly becoming annoyed at this trigger. But why? It wasn’t until much later after a vet placed a few staples in my dog’s thigh the underlying learning experience behind this event.
In retrospect I noticed that my dog probably didn’t care much nor understand anything that I was saying. He just wanted this hole in his thigh to be healed and have a few treats afterward. It propelled me into thinking about what I would do if he was a child. We see parents consoling their children all the time after they experience any form of pain. Our innate nature is to tell them they are either going to be ok, or are ok. My experience was often being told to “walk it off” or “don’t cry”. That lead to a lot of crying in my teens and twenties. From a practical standpoint we know that of course they will be fine at some point. We often console ourselves or others by saying these words in attempt to stay positive. One could say it’s an act of faith, or even a ‘fake it to you make it’ approach. When we are unsure, it’s better to project an outcome of us winning in the end than not. Then I started to notice that when we admit to things when life isn’t “OK”, then we bring power to the present moment. It creates an automatic opportunity to embrace personal power by not only identifying what isn’t working, but stating clearly what your needs are.
I notice that the most authentic and effective healing practitioners rarely say “You’re OK”. Instead, they tactfully approach people with compassion and see the health issue for what it is. They take the necessary steps to find a solution with the help of the client. I notice how I often approach my clients in this way, so why not my most beloved dog and others I care for? These are the deep intertwined roots of learned behavior that are slowly be unwound.
Now that I know what not to do, I’m trying to focus on the positive aspect, but from a healthier approach. Although I am not consoling a dog or any humans during a bloody trauma on a daily basis, I realize I do provide a more subtle form of care to the clients I see and the people I interact with on a daily basis. With that I notice we have a choice every day to offer healing to another in small ways. Perhaps there’s another option of instead of trying to change someone’s perception of what they are experiencing. The last thing someone wants to hear when they are in emotional or physical pain is “You are OK”. Maybe an alternative approach can be, “I’m here”. This simple phrase not only let’s the person know that you are present with them but also what they are experiencing. When I tried to override my old pattern by saying this to my dog, it allowed me feel deeper into my own fear about losing the one consistent thing in my life for the last 8 years. It allowed me to be more authentic with my own feelings and therefore be more present for my dog. I know that when I am present for the humans in my life in this way I can follow it with asking how I can help them. Looking at the big picture, this gives others the power and responsibility to speak for their own needs without me trying to take responsibility or fix situations or people.
This concept of reclaiming ownership of responsibility, power, and thought has been brought to my attention in many layers these past few years. Each layer gets pealed away only to reveal another depth of genuine vulnerability, authenticity, and trust. While everything continues to shift and fluctuate, let’s help each other out a little more with kindness by simply saying, “I’m here”, even when we don’t know what to do. The path show us where to go, but we have to start somewhere.