Every interaction is an opportunity for growth. Yes, even that a**hole who cut you off in traffic. See, every person (or animal) you encounter that challenges you is a mirror reflecting back to you parts that are in need of healing.
The other morning I took my beloved Chihuahua, Tater Tot out for a run. We just started doing this as he is leash-aggressive and anytime he encounters another dog it’s a recipe for disaster. After the 2nd or 3rd run, I realized that once we get into the groove of our run, he’s an angel. Even if we encounter another dog. He gets testy, but keeps pace with me. I didn’t give it much more thought than that. I just thought, as long as I get him moving, after 1/2 mile or so he will settle down.
The other morning as we were returning home from the run, we took a slight detour past the entrance to our complex as I wanted to walk a little before heading home. Crazy Tater appeared. He began acting fearful and was on the lookout for other dogs. I had trouble calming him and became very frustrated. I couldn’t quite grasp what happened. The run usually wears him out and there weren’t any dogs that were around. Then it dawned on me. We were near our house. This is where he typically sees other dogs. He is familiar with what to expect and was on high alert.
Lately I have been playing around with this idea of others being mirrors for aspects of ourselves that need healing, so I got curious. How did his behavior reflect my own? It was like I was slapped upside the head. When I am in familiar territory (ie with my family, running a typical errand, in my car) I have a tendency to want to control my surroundings. I have rehearsed the things that could go wrong and am hyper-vigilant about them. Yet, when I find myself outside of my comfort zone, I am too busy taking it all in to go into my crazy control mode. Never mind the fact that I don’t yet know what/how to control the new situation so there is nothing to be done anyway. Is that why Tater is so much more relaxed on our runs?
From the day we got Tater, he has been my greatest teacher. I am so grateful to him for all the ways in which he shows me opportunities for growth. This day I was reminded to surrender. Even those familiar situations can shift in a moment’s notice and nothing is guaranteed. Attempting to control only leads to crazy eyes and unnecessary anxiety.
When you find yourself in the throes of a frustrating encounter, step back for a moment and ask yourself, how is this reflecting an aspect of myself that is in need of healing? It’s not an easy question to ask, but it’s worth exploring. The more aspects of ourselves that we heal, the more peace we will find in the world.