My dog, Mocha, LOVES to be outside. She sleeps inside the house, but for the better part of the day she enjoys hanging on the back porch surveying her land–well really the postage stamp that is my back yard. So I decided I should buy her a dog house because I want to keep her protected and dry during the winter. Mocha wants nothing to do with the dog house–I have spent much of this week trying to coax her into it. I have tried filling it with her blanket, her toys, clothes of mine, etc. Short of crawling in it myself (as a friend suggested), I have pretty much-done everything. There was one brief moment, I found her in the dog house, but I think she was just heading in to get her stuffed monkey.
So the other night I come home late, and I couldn’t find Mocha–finally, after a few panicked moments she rises from under the deck–it was dark, so I didn’t inspect it. The next day I checked it out–here she has made a little nest for herself under the deck. She has dug a hole and has a nice sized spot for her to hang out under the protection of the deck.
There sits the wonderful shiny new dog house, and she would rather hang under the deck in the dirt! I was thinking how often do we spend our time trying to convince someone else to do something or thinking we know better when they have it under control? Mocha handled the situation–she will be warm and dry under the deck. But I am convinced she needs to be in the shiny new dog house because I honestly think she would be happier there. But the point is she is happy–I am the one who has spent my week obsessing about it. I have been the one who has tied myself up in knots trying to convince her to do what I think would be best for her and she already has it figured out. Isn’t it ironic, my goal was to keep her warm and dry–somewhere I lost sight of that goal, and my goal became to manipulate her into hanging in the dog house. How often does that happen in our lives?
Many times we think we are doing the right thing for someone we think we are helpful and caring when we are trying to force our opinion on to them. We think we know how best to handle a conflict that someone else is having; we think we know the perfect job for our partner, we think we know the best college for our child to attend. Sometimes people (or dogs) do need our help but rarely do they need us to force our thoughts, behaviors or “what is best” on to them–most of the time they just need us to hold the space. Not only will it help them live happier if we aren’t stuffing our agenda down their throat it will help us live happier.
The next time you start obsessing about what someone should do, or what you think is best–stop and think is this another dog house situation? Am I taking on someone else’s stuff that they can handle? Separating your stuff from their stuff will help you live happier.