“No, George! No!” I scream as I sprint across the street. The woman with the beautiful golden retriever has a panicked look on her face as my hundred pound yellow lab begins to mount (yes, MOUNT) her dog. “Oh my gosh. OH MY GOSH!” are the only words that escape me, followed by a slew of other pitiful phrases. “I’m so sorry. I am SO sorry! He never does this. I don’t know what got into him. I’m so embarrassed. I’m so sorry. He’s ‘fixed’…”
As I drag George by the collar back across the street and into our yard, I look over my shoulder to make eye contact with the lady whose dog was just shamelessly humped by my 8 year old lab. Some jumbled version of the following thoughts run through my head:
“I can’t believe I just reassured a total stranger that my dog is, ‘fixed’!”
“I’m so embarrassed, but maybe we can laugh about this?”
“I wonder if she will still be my friend?!”
“I would like to get to know more of our new neighbors!”
My hope for gaining a friendship out of this fiasco is squandered when she shoots me a look of total disgust. As she briskly walks away, the only communication she offers is the back of her head. My mind continues to race.
“What if she thinks I’m a horrible dog owner?”
“She probably thinks that I did not train George.”
“What if she tells all of our neighbors to stay away from us?”
“I hope she doesn’t hate me!”
This is when I catch myself and realize how out of control and irrational my thoughts are. I take a deep breath and start to ask myself some questions.
- What am I worried about?
We moved into our new house recently, and I’m worried about what the lady with the golden retriever and my neighbors think of me.
- Are there any other fears connected to this worry?
I fear not being liked.
I fear disapproval.
I fear rejection.
- Can I control what other people think?
- If our neighbors dislike or disapprove of me, will I be okay?
Yes. I’ll survive.
- What does my anxiety and worry tell me about the object of my trust?
If I worry about others liking me, then my trust is in others. I’m basing my self-worth on my neighbors’ opinion of me and trusting that their opinion is ultimate.
- Is their opinion ultimate?
I notice my anxiety has dropped significantly because I am telling myself the truth. About this time, George plants a huge, slobbery kiss on my forearm to get my attention. His goofy grin makes me laugh. I am reminded to not take myself too seriously. I lean down to give him a good scratch behind the ear and walk through our front door. George follows behind, tail wagging and I think to myself, “It’s going to be a good day.”