We all have our insecurities. Some people hide them while others put them out there for all to see. And many people quietly fight those inner battles by doing things every day to confront their insecurities, becoming a bit more comfortable and confident each time.
I have too many insecurities to list. But this picture illustrates two of them. First, I used to cringe at the idea of posting photos of myself. I’m no supermodel and the word “photogenic” will never be used to describe me. Just look at any birthday post my sister has posted to my Facebook timeline!
But the last couple of years, I’ve worked on posting more or being okay with others’ posts. I focus on the idea that it’s about the memory, not how I look. And I have so many awesome memories. Usually they include time with dogs — either mine, or with others.
The other insecurity is that damn imposter syndrome. It says that one of these days I’m going to be called out as a fraud. I’ll be exposed for having no idea what I’m doing with these pups.
Is this true? No. Not at all. In general I’m very confident in my abilities. But occasionally — especially now with this brand new venture — that little voice whispers, “You’re a fake. All these dogs are in danger in your care. You’ll never succeed and everyone will hate you for pretending.”
Holy cow! That’s also my wonderful anxiety creeping through to boot. But I keep going. I keep playing with my pups. I keep learning from and sharing stories and questions with other caretakers and experts. I keep telling that devil of an inner voice that she is a liar.
And I keep posting pictures. It reminds me that I DO know what I am doing, it gives me confidence, and it makes me smile on the days that I feel extra insecure.
Even Dogs Have Insecurities
Even dogs have their insecurities. Have you ever been at a dog park and watched a new dog arrive? Some bound in ready to play and explore, just assuming they will be surrounded by friends and a great time.
Others arrive at the party more timid. Tail tucked, stuck like glue to their caregiver. It takes them a bit more time to feel safe. They need a slow introduction to this new environment and possible playmates. Often, they find that one other dog who makes them feel safe, play and explore with just them for a bit, and then they come out of their shell and start running and wrestling, ready to meet the rest of the gang.
Maybe that’s why we feel so understood around our canine companions. They instinctively become our safe space, the one companion who will stay by our side until we feel ready to take a step into the unknown.
They celebrate our achievements, no matter how small, and accept us when we fail. They don’t judge. They don’t care what we look like. They only care that we show up for them. That we love them.
How Would Dogs Speak to Themselves?
If dogs could speak our language, I have no doubt they would never speak to themselves the way we speak to ourselves. It wouldn’t even occur to them. And they would be confused as heck if they knew what our inner voices were saying to us. They’d cock their heads in that adorable questioning way and wonder aloud, “Why would you even THINK that? Don’t you know how amazing you are?”
Most of us have had too many people in our lives either intentionally or unintentionally cut us down. Say and do things that make us question our own worth. So much so that recognizing one tiny thing of value within ourselves feels wrong. Egotistical. Fraudulent.
During those times, go sit with your dog. If you don’t have one, visit a park, a shelter, or borrow a friend’s dog. The activity doesn’t matter. Snuggle, play ball, hike, swim; no matter what you do, your companion is going to enjoy the moment. She’s going to look at you with adoration because you are the one sharing in this joy.
Just soak in the love and affection. For just that moment, understand that to this animal, you are everything. You are worthy. Don’t fight it. Let it wash over you.
Hang on to this bit of time during which insecurity vanishes. Take it with you and hold it in your heart for the next time you need a reminder that you have so much more to offer than you think you do, and remember that how you look has nothing to do with any of it.
I’ve never had a dog turn away from me because I felt fat, ugly, unworthy, or even cranky. They couldn’t care less about any of that. And guess what — most humans don’t really care about any of that either. Both dogs and humans are just excited to have someone join them in the fun.
Dogs have given me an avenue and excuse to keep doing what I love while I work through that inner dialogue and build my confidence.
How have dogs helped you fight your own insecurities?