Monday, April 13, 2015

You Teach Them How To Treat You

For the last ten weeks my life has been completely dominated by this guy.

Hi, I'm Angus.  I'm a straight-up mess.
I really only want to live with a dog if he has manners, and I'm the lucky one who gets to teach him all those manners!  He came to me at 8 weeks old, adorable and wild.  He had no idea we don't jump on people or the couch, that we can't nip the kids out of excitement, that mouthing people/clothes/furniture is not okay.  I have had to teach him all that stuff and a lot more.

It has reminded me a lot of that old saying, "You teach people how to treat you."  Have you ever heard that saying?  I'm literally teaching this puppy how to treat us. For people, I think it means that others learn really quickly how far they can go with us, what boundaries we have and how we react when they're crossed.  If you stay silent when someone talks down to you, you have taught them to talk down to you.  If you yell and scream when you are angry, you teach them that yelling and screaming is how to communicate with you.

Boundaries: they're important.

I have had some big relational disappointments in the last year or so, with the sudden disappearance of a really good friend and with some other issues with people I love.  Revisiting this principle, "you teach people how to treat you," has me asking where I lost sight of my boundaries.  Have I allowed any of them to be crossed, without consequence?  I think the answer is most definitely "yes." So often we don't want to establish boundaries, or we let them slide, out of fear of confrontation, or even (as was my case with my friend) because on the surface the relationship seems fulfilling and like nothing can go wrong.  I guess I had gotten lazy with certain boundaries, and the result is really painful.

Today maybe give a few minutes of thought to your boundaries.  Are you teaching anyone out there to disrespect you?  To be too familiar?  To jump frantically up and down when company comes over? Oh wait, that's just the puppy.  Well you get my point.  It's the same for dogs and people--we are at least partly responsible for how they treat us.  Or maybe you are all good in this area; if so, you go girl!  Good job!  In any case, gut-check accomplished.  I gotta run for now and go pick up some poop or something.

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