I often keep the front door to my apartment open in the mornings and my little dog, Ruby, lies in the sunshine. Today a cable TV technician, who I did not know was around, left my next door neighbor’s apartment and startled Ruby who let out one loud super big bark. Startled he screamed, very loudly and with much anger, “SHUT UP!” as he passed.
His tone of voice was so sharp it felt like being hit in the stomach. Had I not stayed in control of myself I would have said something to him. But I did not allow myself to react. Instead I took a deep breath and put myself in his position.
Although Ruby was inside our apartment I would have jumped too had I passed by and she barked loudly. She is and always will be protective. While I appreciate the “doggie job” she does I can understand how startling it is when there’s complete silence and she barks. The same thing has happened to me when UPS sneaks up and I do not hear them approach the door but she does and lets out an ear-piercing warning bark. It sends me sky high. So taking time to relate to the startled man is what allowed me to let go of his screaming harshly at my dog.
I cannot tell you how dramatically life has improved for the better since I learned to stay in control of myself. I really work hard not to react, but to think. I learned that by taking a moment to place myself in the position of another person I am able to see their side. When combined with my own observations I can determine when to say something and when not to say anything. I did get up and shut the door so Ruby and I, and the man stayed peaceful as he passed by three more times.