A close friend of mine mentioned recently that I’m like a beaten dog who is too afraid of a new owner, even one who treats me very well. When he said it, it brought tears to my eyes. I thought of my partner’s dog, who is from a shelter. He was covered in ticks, had a respiratory illness, and was only alive because someone at the shelter loved him enough to keep hiding his paperwork on euthanasia day. He wanted to live so much that he chose to show A he trusted him without any knowledge, just a sense. He leaned on him in a way that made A know he was the one. And in the time I’ve known him, he’s the most loving dog. You have to show him you’re trustworthy first, though, unlike most dogs. As A says, “He’s got too much dig-nit-y to love just anyone. You have to show him you’re worth it.” But a few good rubs and a long hike will make him your best friend forever.
Somehow, he found it in his heart to love and trust openly again (with some small reservations). And yet…I can’t. And so what does a scientist do with this information? Research. If people can figure out how to make dogs trust people again, maybe the same tools can be used to make me trust humans again…or myself.
Cesar Milan states in this article that having a dog trust you is dependent on these factors:
- Stay Calm.
- Respect Their Space.
- Get on Their Level.
- Let Them Come to You.
- Go on A Walk.
Amusingly, maybe these aren’t so far off for humans. The minute someone tries to force me into anything (even things I like doing), I’m out of there in a heartbeat. Someone who doesn’t respect my things, my heart, or my loved ones is also walked briskly to the door. Those who will bring more drama to my life or who won’t try to understand my perspective can kindly disappear. Please and thank you. And those awesome people who will respect me in all of those things *and* hike with me are keepers for sure.
But…can I do that for myself? I let relatively small issues become big ones in my head. I let my space get cluttered and disorganized. I often find myself trying to repress hard feelings, put them in a box, and send them over my emotional walls. I try to push myself to move past things I’m clearly not ready to yet and don’t take no for an answer. And I don’t get myself out and exercising as much I know I should/is good for my mental health.
Maybe if I can see my inner self – the broken, hurting one – as a beaten dog who I just want to show some love and a better life, I will then trust myself like a dog trusts a new owner.
I guess it couldn’t hurt.
What do you do to help you trust yourself more? Or others?