Max cannot read minds. He is not a wizard. He does not have access to that kind of dark side of the force power (please, no one put him in contact with Kylo – also, thank you for indulging me, Star Wars references are done…for now).
But too often I act like he should. I expect Max to know exactly what I mean when I tell him to do something. What’s even crazier is that, even when I do nothing to express myself to him, I am frustrated when he does not do something I want him to do, or does something I do not want him to do.
And on the flip side, I cannot read his mind. First, he is a dog and I literally cannot know how a dog thinks, because I do not have access to internal dog brain functioning. But I also don’t even understand fellow human minds much of the time.
So, why do I expect Max to perfectly understand my every desire? Why do I expect Max to behave exactly how I think he should behave when he often does not even know what I want him to do?
Now, I do think Max comprehends a lot of what goes on and can be quite compassionate. I believe that (most) dogs are very smart and intuitive. And I also think it is good to train dogs and teach them ways to behave.
What I am questioning is my expectation that Max behave exactly how I think he should and my frustration when he does not.
I question that expectation, because I realize that I project the same thing onto other people. Too often I expect other people to act or think exactly how I think they should. Too often I get frustrated when people don’t do something I expect or do something I don’t desire; and far too often this happens without me communicating anything beforehand.
Max has taught me what a silly paradox that kind of thinking is. He has taught me that other dogs and people (as far as I know) cannot read my mind. He has taught me that it makes no sense to get mad at people when they don’t behave the way I think they should.
He has taught me that instead of worrying myself over the way others are not following my grand vision of the way the world should work, I should try my best to see things from their perspective. I should try to walk in their shoes and display compassionate acceptance rather than frustrated judgment. That doesn’t mean I condone everything that happens around me, but it does mean that I don’t get frustrated when the traffic does not work perfectly in my favor. It means that I understand people may just not see things the way I do and that they definitely don’t know what I’m thinking without me saying something.
And Max has taught me that ultimately I need to communicate more so that I can better convey what is important to me and so that I can better understand what others are doing and why.
So, thank you Max for trying very hard to read my mind, but ultimately teaching me that you cannot. Thank you for helping me curb my expectation of how people around me should act. And thank you for helping me see the value of communicating the things that are important to me.