15 March 2018
How Dog had a breakthrough – a contemporary fable (part 2)
So now Dog had a fair insight into his problem. He could clearly see what was going wrong, but it did not really result in any constructive action. He had to change tactics, and unwittingly (after all, how could he possibly have known) he followed the example of his room mate Mouse.
This he knew for sure: he sincerely longed for a harmonic, even loving cohabitation with Cat. That was the change he passionately wanted to achieve. He longed for an animal playmate, an ally in the midst of this pack of human creatures. In practice he had not been very successful – quite the contrary – and his relationship with Cat was very unpredictable.
If he was very honest, he had to admit that it frightened him to do the opposite of what he was doing now – in other words, not to go chasing after Cat when the feline walked through the living room. When he gave it some further thought, he realised that it was mainly Cat’s movement that triggered him – especially when Cat moved swiftly.
He really tried to imagine what would happen if he would not follow his dog instincts blindly. The thought alone made him slightly queasy. After all, he belonged to the Border Collie breed, he was a proper herding dog. It was in his genes. If you saw movement out of the corner of your eyes – say a sheep wandering away from the herd – you jump up immediately and go after it, without thinking. The pride and honour of the breed was at stake – at least, that is what he had always thought. And it was exactly this instinct that was causing these issues with a cat, of all creatures.
His conscious goal to change was competing strongly with a much more subconscious and apparently stronger impulse. And the subconscious cannot be fought or changed. Because of his sharp mind, he had come to that insight after long thought.
So what now? He decided to gather some more information first to test if his assumptions were correct – if it was really true that a Border Collie can only respect himself when he chases after everything that moves in his line of vision.
Firstly, he made a conscious effort to see Cat in a different light – no longer as an annoying creature, but as a peer with his own right of being, just like him. He just needed to flip a switch in his head. That seemed to work quite nicely. Nothing catastrophic happened because he changed his mind. He was also not ashamed. His owners still loved him just as much. He even thought that he saw Cat looking at him affably, rather than in his usual dark way.
Then he had lain down a few times close to Cat, quietly. That had been most exciting as he feared it might have ended badly, with Cat hissing and growling again – but that had not happened. His assumptions about dogs versus cats proved to be unfounded – check.
Now only the big test was left: not to chase after a moving cat. The previous two actions had changed his perspective in such a way that he felt fine about that test, and also confident that he could change, slowly but surely. So his goal suddenly seemed very close.
Did you find this fable – and the previous one – inspiring? Do you see goals for change for yourself, that you cannot seem to realise? There is hope. Together we can map what is keeping you from making permanent changes. Just like Dog you will be ready to test your big assumptions with small actions. These can be very different issues, on a personal or professional level. Even teams or organisations can be faced with a serious immunity problem that stops real change from happening. Contact me for a free session and make your own breakthrough come true.
© Anne De Smet