In the last year, I’ve spent more time with dogs than people. I post photo after photo of the funny things my dogs do or just a moment in each of their lives. Instagram shows more photos of my dogs than anything else (@cawfeejunkie). It’s mostly the dogs, my cawfee and I. During this time, their behavior has taught me a lot.
I had to wait for the OK from my doctors to get back into sports and have been walking my “Running Buddy,” Mocha, a lot while my foot healed from the metatarsal fracture last Christmas, the nose surgery at the end of June and the prolapse surgeries from 2016. During this time, our “habits” changed. When we run, Mocha’s duty is to run next to me – no stopping to poop or pee (for her), no time to sniff garbage, the scents of other animals or roll in dog / horse / cow poop. Since we took to walking this past June, not only have I lost 13 lbs but Mocha is allowed to follow the scent, stop and do her thing and as a result, has had more “rolled in shit” baths than I care to count. (Disclaimer, especially for crazy corgi owners: I don’t put Mocha on a leash unless it’s necessary. It’s with me but she’s trained to follow commands and stay within a certain distance of me.)
On one of our walks, I had been in a pretty negative mood. I was so tired of “shit” – other people’s shit to be exact. I walked and had these conversations in my head about the shit. You know those conversations where you’re replaying EVERYTHING and wishing you’d said ‘this’ or how could the other person say ‘that.’ I was frustrated, angry, felt like my kindness was mistaken for stupidity or weakness and I had no choice but to be in this situation.
Rolling in the Deep (Shit) Revelation
In my heightened frustration while I was conversing with myself and not entirely paying attention to Mocha, she rolled in a HUGE pile of shit before I could stop her. It was caked in her run collar, it covered her neck, she stunk and I vomited in my mouth just a little – it was that bad! I was angry with this dog for rolling in the shit. I couldn’t even touch her and I wanted to put her on the leash as punishment but her collar was so full of shit that it was impossible!
Mocha looked at me with such pride, happiness and pure accomplishment. At that moment, I realized that rolling in shit and taking someone’s shit is a choice. Mocha, and most dogs, love to roll in shit and dead animals. Let that sink in, dogs CHOOSE to roll in shit! No worries, that’s not my revelation, however it became my sweet epiphany to a shitty situation.
I started thinking about things in a much more simplistic way. I was so frustrated about someone else’s “shit” and I didn’t even realize I could choose not to be part of it. Kind of funny because I tell my friends to “ignore the noise” in bad times so they can focus on what they need to and here I was letting other people’s “noise” affect me.
So often we allow people who are close to us give us their “shit” or “noise.” I’m not talking about when our friends / family are going through a rough time and they turn to us for support, advice or even just to vent. I’m talking about the ones who suck the kindness out of you like it’s the last sip of the best milkshake you’ll ever taste (my daughter will say it’s the coffee milkshake from Whataburger). The people who creep into your life and keep giving you their “shit” and reward you by treating you unkind and are disrespectful. Know who I’m talking about? Oftentimes, in the moment that we are stuck in the shit, we don’t realize that in every interaction, we have a choice with these kindness suckers. Even though we mostly realize late in the game that they are sucking everything good out of us, we can stop it.
I have the same cycle. I’m empathetic, understanding, I listen, offer advice, make people feel good and help them through whatever challenges they are facing – I’m always the first to say “you are not alone.” In these times, I give a lot of myself even if it’s not the best for me. Do you ever have this cycle?
Eventually, the kindness suckers start treating me like shit, turning me into their floor mat and I end up hurt and frustrated. This has been a bad cycle for me and the last time I experienced a kindness sucker was during a very difficult time in my life. Once I recognized it and was ready to take action, they didn’t like it because the “norm” of me being a floor mat changed. I have learned that my heart makes excuses for the kindness sucker’s behaviour and when my logic finally takes over, I reach a snapping point. Usually, that occurs when my health and wellbeing is being affected by their behaviour.
We cannot change others
After much reflection, I’ve learned that I cannot change the kindness suckers and I don’t want to. I can only change how I interact with them, which they unfortunately notice. Since their outlook is consumed by being a victim of life, they are caught in their own “meeeee” cycle and have little interest in how others truly feel. I’ve noticed they only care when I am in a situation they find comparable to their own ‘victim world’: very sick, injured, stressed, losing a loved one. They need to say “Oh, I’m sorry….” Without meaning. They need to be attentive through your suffering so that they are not alone in theirs and ultimately suck you right into their tornado of negativity.
There are multiple ways that we can deal with the kindness suckers. In some instances, we can completely eliminate them from our lives. We can walk away and feel confident about the decision made. In other instances, these people are not around that much so you can create the distance required for yourself. There are some cases where these people are in your daily life which makes it tricky. In situations where you are meeting the kindness suckers, it’s important to maintain kindness and respect always. You can’t change them but you can certainly be (mostly) yourself and just be polite without getting too deep into their lives or the types of conversations that bring you into the position of the floor mat. The latter takes A LOT of practice and focus.
My heart is strong and it loves fiercely but my head is stronger and when it finally takes over, I do manage to make the changes necessary to reduce the impact kindness suckers have on my life. When they notice my coolness or absence, I am often confronted with the “How do you think … makes me feel?” The ‘…’ could be something I said, me not replying to multiple text messages, me not being helpful or empathetic in their opinion – it’s anything at this point to get my attention that they are important. In that moment, I find out where I am emotionally. When I don’t feel anything, not even pity, and I can respond with “I haven’t thought about how … makes you feel” through words or behaviour I’ve reached my limit and I experience my own freedom of emotion. It honestly feels great.
Now, excuse me while I go bathe Mocha, who can’t seem to stop rolling in what she chooses!