Pause With Paws - Activity 2 -Name Dropping :The Art of Dropping the Habit of Naming/Labeling Others
Updated: May 13, 2020
Let’s add another layer to the "Walk like a Dog " exercise. What if we stop labeling people and other dogs that we encounter during walks ? We may have our biases regarding small or big dogs or specific breeds .Even if we do not talk to people that we encounter during dog walks , we sometimes label them basis body language or what we have heard about them . For example , we label them as unfriendly if they don't respond to our hello or return our smile .This actually adds an invisible weight that we carry for the rest of the walk . Because , unlike dogs , we think about it for the rest of the walk/day .
“Transparency is the idea that people’s behavior and demeanor—the way they represent themselves on the outside—provides an authentic and reliable window into the way they feel on the inside.”
―Malcolm Gladwell,Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
Labeling becomes a bigger issue when that team ( dog and human ) doesn’t vibe well with our team. I had the opportunity to talk to a dog who seemed to dislike a particular dog in their neighborhood. Few other dogs, known to this family , also showed a dislike for that dog in particular . When I asked this dog about it, he had a single response “ He is snooty “. Which incidentally was the popular opinion about the human who walked the dog that was unpopular with this group! That’s exactly the label they had given him. This opened my eyes to the extent our labeling affects them and their response to it. Of course, we wouldn't know who influenced this opinion on who or if it was just a consensus between that dog and his human . Its a chicken and egg situation. But we have the power to break this cycle . So as an experiment , what if we tried not labeling humans and other dogs we encounter during walks ? Specially the ones we labelled before . We will go back to our breathing, or another anchor ,when we come across them next time . And we will stay neutral when we meet new dogs and people.
This is not the sole reason for dogs not getting along . I do understand that sometimes our dogs don’t get along with the dogs of our friends. Reasons could be different there. Also , the biggest difference between them and us is that we can stew on a bad encounter for hours / days to come and they just piss/mark and move on . Also , this exercise is more for us. This is to help us get used to the idea of not labeling people we meet in our everyday lives. Because once we label them we unknowingly block ourselves from understanding their true essence . Lets try this experiment to see if we can provide them and us a neutral mind space during our walks. Again , we can practice this for the whole walk or a part of it .
Tip : Visualize how you want your walk to go .While I put the leash on our dog , I recite a little intention that I would like to meet friendly faces - dogs and people during my walk today .
Walk like a Dog , without name dropping and let us know how your baggage free walks go! We would love to hear your experience