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How Returning a Rescue Dog Made Me Re-Think Who I Am

How Returning a Rescue Dog Made Me Re-Think Who I Am

I was blown away by the incredible, inspiring, and compassionate responses after writing a post about returning our dog, Rocky Blue, to his rescue group. After six months and with a baby on the way, we just knew he wasn’t a good fit for our home, resulting in my heartbreaking decision. (Of course I received some emails and responses from people that were outraged or felt like they didn’t want to be in my community anymore. And I honor that too … I knew it was a risk and am still proud I told the truth about my experience.)

The very day we dropped off Rocky Blue at the rescue group’s adoption fair, he was adopted by a young woman who fell in love with him. YES! That means that he never had one night without a home. And I know in my heart he was meant to be with us as our teacher for 6 months and is now settling into his forever home. I’m eternally grateful when The Universe conspires like this.

Among the dozens of lessons this experience has taught me, one in particular stands out: the idea of who we THINK we are. The story of who our ego tries to convince us we are and when we bump up against a situation or challenge that pushes us outside our perceived identity, it kind of … well … messes us up.

For me, I never thought in a million years I’d be the type of person to return a rescue dog to a rescue group.

The act of doing just that shattered a part of my identity and had me look at myself differently. I had an “Inner Mean Girl attack,” where my Inner Critic raked me over the coals for a day or so. (Thank goodness I have so many tools to help!) When we commit an act that feels contrary to who we think we are we open ourselves up to some very harsh Big Fat Lies. (i.e. “I should be better than this.” “I hate people who do things like this and now that person is ME!” etc.)

But it also showed me what my highest priorities truly are: to honor my husband, to honor my family, and to honor my limits. (Guess I’m not superwoman after all. DARN!) And it allows me to have access to compassion that I didn’t even know existed. I stop the harsh judgments of others who have done such things and realize that I can never know what others are going through.

This “who you think you are” phenomenon can also work when we do things beyond what we perceive our limitations are.

Case in point: I never thought in a million years that I would actually be a published author signing her second book deal. Yet here I am. Now experiences like this also open us up to another type of Inner Mean Girl attack. One that fills our heads with Big Fat Lies like “Who are you to deserve this?” or “They’re going to find out you’re fraud.” or “You’re not worthy.”

The key here is to get curious.

So I’m curious, name, who do THINK you are? Try this exercise:

#1: Fill in the blank:

-I never thought in a million years I’d ever ______________
-If you would have told me 20 years ago that I’d ever _____________, I would have said, “you’re nuts!”
-I promised myself I’d never ____________ and yet here I am.
-I surprised and delighted myself when I _____________.

#2: Next, I want you to close your eyes and ask your Inner Wisdom what you’re learning. What are these experiences showing you about you?

#3: Release the attachment to the STORY of who you think you are and instead step into curiosity. Stop making assumptions and judgements and instead find a place of openness. See where that takes you.

#4: Bring on the compassion! No matter what, it’s time to amp up your compassion. Self-compassion and compassion for others. This is key to breaking free of any story that is holding you back.

“The more tightly we cling to a fixed view of ‘who I am,’ the more we cut ourselves off from the process of becoming, which of course is what’s happening in every moment.” -Nancy Bardacke

I’d love to see your responses. What does this exercise bring to the light for you? Who are YOU becoming?

With unstoppable enthusiasm,

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Amy Ahlers

Amy Ahlers, the Wake-Up Call Coach, is the bestselling author of Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves. A certified Life Coach, speaker & author, she is taking a STAND for women to stop being so hard on themselves and start loving themselves instead. Join her community of nearly 40k souls who are committed to waking up to the voice of their Inner Wisdom & cultivating the courage to act on it. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter and make sure to go here to claim your free Inner Superstar Kit so you can shine bright!

143 comments

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8:32AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

Continued With that said, the people that are lambasting you should also understand that if it's not the right match for your family, then ultimately, it is not the right match for the animal either, & if an animal is not truly wanted, they will "know" this; It is better for all involved to part ways. I hope your family finds your fur-baby that will be a perfect fit & that your former pet is now living the life that he/she is meant to as well.

8:24AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

The questions are good ones, one's that I will ponder at another moment, not right at this moment. You were brave to write the article, but I think you would have had more understanding from people if you had been more clear about the reasons you felt it necessary to "let go" of the dog & return to the rescue group. As a rescue person myself, it is hard to hear this, but I do know that sometimes there are circumstances warrenting such a decision; however, too many people do not undertake an adoption decision with out enough clarity in the first place of what their families needs are & therefore what type of animals suits them. I sadly have heard every lame excuse on earth that there is, is: "I am returning this kitten because she is too active & chews on paper items", this is a person who CLEARLY did NOT think through what adopting a kitten entails, therefore a totally irresponsible decision. This is also the responsibility of the rescue to make the right match for the family as well, as to help insure a lifetime comittment. Your returned rescue luckliy had a wonderful turn of events with him/her getting adopted out the same time he/she was returned, but that is hardly he case with MOST returned animals, and when one rescue is adopted another is quickly intaked into the rescue, as sadly here is no shortage of animals without homes. Then it becomes very hard to find a foster to intake that returned animal & care for them until a forever home has been found.

1:05PM PDT on Mar 30, 2014

I believe that Rocky Blue is in his loving forever home -- if this is the case, then everything turned out well, especially for Rocky Blue. I do not have the facts -- what criteria you used to come to your decision -- but, whatever the reasons, the fact that you returned Rocky Blue to the rescue group (I'm assuming they're a NO-KILL rescue) is highly commendable -- in this instance, you did good! And, what's more, it was at their adoption fair you showed up with Rocky Blue, which is another good thing!

The fact that he was adopted that same day (let's hope by loving people) is still another fantastic thing! All in all, everything turned out really well for Rocky Blue AND because of this, you can definitely sleep at night!

What I want for Rocky Blue is that he remain in a loving family forever! You did the best you could and as of today ALL parties involved are in a good place!

12:41PM PDT on Mar 11, 2014

Dog is better off without u.. What a puke if crap your jst trying to justify why u gave up your dog. Goodness how long will you keep your children... Nothing in this world would make me give up my dogs. Absolutely nothing.

10:12PM PST on Mar 3, 2014

And Moron, here is something else!
I knew a very sweet young couple. The young husband loved his dog and I would occasionally dog sit for him. This went on for years. Then one year the young wife had a baby and the next time I saw the husband I asked him how his sweet doggy was. He said that he had had to give up his beloved companion - his family came first. He was a loyal and loving man. A couple of years later this couple was divorced! I hope this happens to YOU moron. You deserve the respect and loyalty you gave YOUR dog. You are a psycho and deserve the future you will get.
This is a true story.

10:12PM PST on Mar 3, 2014

Take a breath Helen...lol passionate...but a wee bit harsh..

10:01PM PST on Mar 3, 2014

Hey Moron!
Could you not have expended one more iota of energy for your poor dog?
Stay away from all animals in the future, and yes, Nanette A, you have it dead right, how about your second baby? I hope to God it fits in well with your psychotic image of your family other wise maybe you'll have to send that life back whence it came.
You make me sick!

8:53PM PST on Mar 3, 2014

I thought it was a dumb comment insinuating you have to be "Superwoman" to have a dog and family... I just hope she stays away from animals in the future.

8:18PM PST on Mar 1, 2014

good, insightful article...thanks p.s. we are not bad people. she did not abuse him, so please don't judge.

2:25PM PST on Feb 28, 2014

Thanks.

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