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,