I have a little, black toy poodle. His name is Bokkie. This morning Bokkie discovered his reflection in the glass doors of my office. He saw a black toy poodle moving back and forth in the panes and didn’t like it. He saw himself and it made him growl and bark.
Bokkie’s adventure in the glass reminded me of some of my less pleasant moments with people. Like Bokkie I too see myself in the words and actions of those around me. Their words often trigger something deeper in my story, something I don’t like about myself or some memory that causes me not to like myself. Like Bokkie I am unsettled and sometimes respond with loud barking.
This happens most often with my wife. The other day she made a comment. Her words were benign, something like “Have you finished your expense report?” And for some reason her question triggered something in me and I “barked” at her. Now I realize that I was barking at myself. I hadn’t looked at my expense report and knew that I should have. In that moment I saw the Gabe I didn’t like in her words. I saw the Gabe that doesn’t live up to my standard. I saw the Gabe that isn’t as diligent as I would like to be. And in her words I heard the lie, “See you are pretty worthless. You can’t even get an expense report done on time.” Those weren’t her words. She loves me. She was asking about my work because she wants to help me. She is my best friend, the one who knows me the best and yet I responded with barking. And my barking wounded her.
Today I hope to have more self awareness than my dog.