Have you ever spent time at an airport, shopping center or other event just watching people? It’s fascinating. Doc and I try to figure out where they are going, what the relationships are with the people they are with and other wild tales we concoct in our heads. This is all done with minimal information of course. Did you know scientists have estimated that we form impressions of others within the first 30 seconds we meet someone? So think about how those initial impressions impact the way we treat others. Then take it a step further and think about how we were treated growing up and later as adults, and how we have absorbed those stories others created about us. Then, ask yourself if the story you believe about yourself is true and how it may be limiting you from living up to your full potential.
” I’m the black sheep of the family.” the patient said out loud in our weekly group counseling session. I knew exactly what Doc was going to reply when he said that and she did not disappoint me. ” What makes you the black sheep? ” she asked him quietly. ” Well because of everything I have done since I was little, that’s what my family calls me even to this day.” Doc looked him right in the eye and asked ” Did you ever think that your family might be wrong? That’s just a label they gave you. Is that really who you are deep down inside, a black sheep? ” The poor man looked so shocked, as I don’t ever think he had even considered that his family may be wrong. He had owned this label into his adult life to the point that at times it had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. ” Labels belong on cans, not on people. Doc said. Now tell me more about who you really are.”
I am not sure why humans feel the need to assign labels, they even do it to different dog breeds. It’s as if some are uncomfortable just allowing others to develop and be themselves. Because in reality, we are all unique with our own set of special talents.
Doc understood that about me from the beginning. She had a vision that as a therapy dog, I would help children that were struggling with reading by sitting quietly while they practiced reading a book to me. The only problem was that I thought it was a game and I would steal the book so the kids would chase me. That certainly didn’t work out like she had envisioned, so instead of trying to force me to do what she wanted, she worked to find out what I was best at. That turned out to be working with adults in recovery and with cancer patients and I am very happy doing that.
It just goes to show you that everyone has a unique path they should follow, but that will only happen if we let go of the stories that limit our potential and stay open to what our heart leads us to do.
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