My dog is a complete asshole, and this is for three main reasons: 1) He was never properly trained (long story). 2) He’s a Jack Russell Terrier. 3) He got called Loki after the Norse god of mischief. He’s nearly 10 years old now so I’ve just learned to accept him as the little lovable twat that he is. My Dad, however…
When we language something in our world, when we give it a category – like, this is a dog – we automatically apply our own set of standards as to what we expect from it. When we say, “that’s an unusual looking tree”, we must remember that it’s actually not unusual. It would be more true to say, “this is a normal tree, it just doesn’t follow the standards I have when I think of a tree”. A subtle yet powerful difference.
My Dad clearly has a very specific standard for “dog”, and Loki does not conform to that well-behaved, well-groomed, attentive doggy set of rules. But clutching onto these rigid standards doesn’t do either of them any good.
When Loki barks at the postman I see it as merely a slightly noisy 2 minutes of my day, whereas because my Dad seems to view it like Loki is doing something utterly ridiculous and insulting to the house, and so 10 minutes of shouting ensues. I tell my parents to accept Loki’s gift of shoes as a standard show of affection. Yet instead of putting their footwear out of his reach, they get frustrated when he takes the shoes that continue to be laid out for him each day. What could be a happy coexistence of acceptance often turns into constant low-key stress for the people, while the dog goes about his little unique happy Loki-life.
When we apply a rigid standard and belief system to anything, especially a living thing, we are setting ourselves up for nothing but disappointment when they fail to achieve it, as most will. Tony Robbins says that all arguments happen because of a difference in standards, do you agree? Because when I really consider it, I think I do, and my life has become infinitely less stressful by taking people and animals as they are not as I wish them to be.
NB: Please note that my Dad secretly does love Loki and is never cruel to him, ever.