If there’s a word that has even a slightly negative tinge to it, I’ve most certainly been called it in my lifetime. If someone said something negative to me and I called them on it, I was too sensitive. If someone said something cruel and it sparked an emotional reaction in me, I was called emotional like it was a bad word.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t until somewhat recently that I started to question why people do such things. I’ve often heard people say, “Don’t be like that” or “Don’t take it that way.” What it seems like is really being said (in most cases) is, “I want to say whatever I want to you without thinking until I know how it has affected you and then I don’t know how to react to it other than to tell you what to do if that doesn’t line up with my expected responses.”
Now I’m fortunate that my partner in no way contributes to those negative aspects of my life (thank goodness), but I do hear people say these things more often than I think is reasonable.
I started thinking about all this because of something that happened at the dog park, believe it or not.
I train our dog, Cloud, in what I would consider necessary commands. The “come” command is at the top of that list.
Huskies are notorious runners, and I’ve always known that, one day, that command could save his life.
Case in point, I was once taking the garbage out as I was going outside for a walk with Cloud. Something must have smelled especially awful at the dumpster, as Cloud pulled backwards and managed to pull out of his collar. It went slack and my heart was in my mouth. I ran outside and found him standing in the middle of the street and I called “COME” and he did nothing. I forced myself to stay calm, said it once more, and he came racing back to me. I engulfed him in a huge body hug and burst into tears. I was never more grateful for our training than in that moment.
Back to the dog park.
At the dog park, as much as I love Cloud, he kind of f*cks off. I know lots of dogs do due to the overwhelming stimuli, but I wanted to start trying to train him a little while he was there in hopes he would be more rigorous about adhering to the few commands he already knows (“come” being first and foremost).
I hear many people at the dog park lament that some folks don’t pay attention to their dogs while they are there. The stories are varied from mild to extreme, but it’s universal that people get annoyed if someone isn’t paying attention to their dog, particularly when that dog is an instigator.
I experienced the flip side.
Some of those same people went out of their way to not only tell me I was uptight for trying to train him for a few minutes here and there on basic commands while in the park, but I was also told, “Lighten up” and “Leave him alone.”
Why do people feel they can tell others how to behave or what they should do, particularly when they are trying to be proactive about something?
I was baffled.
But I kept right on training him. If something has the potential to keep him safe someday, I’m sure as sh*t going to keep doing it.
In recent weeks someone told me about a more or less innocent prank they had played on someone else, a mutual friend. It had the potential to embarrass the person when they realized it (and most certainly in front of others), so when I had a chance to talk to the prankee alone, I told him the truth of what was going on. He thanked me profusely, and I said I couldn’t in good conscience be silent. When the prankster later found out I’d told him the truth, he said, “You shouldn’t have done that.”
“I’m never going to regret telling the truth.”
The prankster proceeded to backpedal while still telling me how I should feel and/or have handled the situation.
There are some folks who, no matter how diplomatically I try to handle the situation, try to tell me what I should do. I don’t take a lot of that personally, as I’ve often heard them say similar things to others. That reminder by example doesn’t make me feel better, though. I do occasionally point out what is happening, and it seems to confound; I don’t know if it’s worse or better than if that person was aware of it.
I am never going to be on board for someone saying something rude or controlling to me, then also telling me how to feel about it. My response and actions are not up to them and their whims of order.
I am not ashamed of being emotional. Or sensitive. I will never feel guilty about wanting to train Cloud or reinforce positive behavior. And I sure as sh*t am never going to feel bad for telling the truth.
I will probably always be too BLANK to someone; that’s not my problem. It’s really, really theirs.