Dogs and smoke detectors do not mix. Even a little bit. At least not for Summit. He will chase anything in his yard, brave long walks in 20 below zero conditions, and go most anywhere with me, but smoke detector low battery alerts bring him to his quivering knees. It must be the pitch combined with the complete mystery of why something in his house would make such a horrible noise. So, I do my best to balance changing batteries before the dreaded sound, with not wasting said batteries.
It’s a dance. And an up close reminder that there are hard no’s that live in all of us. I will not stop trying to help ease his dog anxiety or his snarling, lunging, but ultimately fearful response when seeing other dogs on a walk. He might someday learn that those are hard no’s from me. In the meantime, we just have to keep practicing.
But the low battery alarm? That’s a hard no from him. There is no consoling him. He hides in the basement for an extended length of time after the offending sound stops, followed by running big zoomies in the yard to shake it off. Dogs are such tremendous teachers. I look at my sweet boy, finally recovered from the trauma of the morning. And I turn those same soft eyes inward. Reaching for the wisdom to recognize the difference between hard no’s and resistance worth exploring.
Many of my biggest break throughs have come on the heels of my saying ‘I can’t, don’t get to, don’t want to do that.’ When I catch myself saying those things, that’s my opening to ask why. To mine the resistance and see what’s underneath.
“I don’t get to do that” is my favorite. Like the time early on in my speaking career, when my mastermind group suggested I bring my dog with me on stage. My response was an instant no, I don’t get to do that. But my wise friends simply stayed quiet, watching me as I slowly worked it through. It resulted in 9 years of a deeply joyful speaking partnership with my dog Tuu Weh.
My list is long, those seemingly hard no’s that, with curiosity, led to yes. I have my share of battery alarm, no way, not ever’s. And they play an important role in keeping me true to myself. You won’t catch me wearing dresses or staying indoors when it snows.
What comes up as you read this? The things you think you don’t get to do, but want to? Ask yourself why not? The things that you don’t want to do? Those are tougher, but no less worthy of investigation. There are brave new worlds beyond the thresholds of our resistance.
My advice? Approach those places of resistance with the kindness you would show to a frightened dog. Stay present, soothe, invite those feelings to come up from the basement, maybe even zip around the yard a bit, then sit down together for a chat, then maybe a nap. See what budges, and what doesn’t. It’s all in support of being more fully and Wildly You.