The power of awareness changes our wellbeing.   –Dr. Dan Siegel

For the last year we’ve been dog owners, and every night, whoever is the last one upstairs puts the dog in his kennel for the night.

Every time my daughter puts him to bed, she comes downstairs to her own bed feeling badly.

“Oh mama…Zip looked so sad,” she laments, “his tail stopped wagging and he looked at me with big sad eyes.”

“How do you know he’s sad, babe? Maybe he’s relieved to be going to bed?”

“No, he’s sad,” she assures me, “I can tell by the way he walks in and lays down and looks at me.”

My daughter and I have very different views of bedtime. I love an evening routine and an early bedtime hour. I get to unwind with a book, a snack, and warmth radiating from my husband next to me.

My daughter doesn’t like to go to bed. She doesn’t like the dark, doesn’t fall asleep quickly, and doesn’t want to sleep alone.

So when we take our dog to his bed each night, I think I’m doing him a favor…and my daughter thinks she’s hurting his feelings.

So what’s going on here?

If someone gave me a comfy, dark and quiet place as respite for the day, I’m happy….so I see our dog as happy. If someone gave my daughter the same, she feels sad…so she sees our dog as sad.

So is the dog sad or is he happy? What is the truth?

Clearly, it depends on who you ask.

Who you and I are – what we believe, value, like, think – is what we project onto the world.

We see things as we are.

If there’s a belief of brokenness and a need for fixing or saving, the world will start putting forth people or circumstances that appear to need fixed or saved.

If there’s an underlying belief that worth is attached to performance, then the world will look full of others who are succeeding exceptionally well.

If it’s about injustice, lo and behold the world will spit out offenders before our eyes.

A brain is designed to focus in on whatever it’s looking for. Becoming aware of inner thoughts helps uncover the truth seen: People often recognize and call out things in others and in circumstances that they are ourselves, whether it’s really the truth or not.

If projecting our inner state onto our pets happens, think about what we may be projecting onto our children, parents. Onto our students, teachers. Onto our employees, bosses. Onto our neighbors, friends.

When awareness becomes everyday practice we can get out of our own way and…

  1. be able to see with new eyes,
  2. ask neutral and powerful questions to understand,
  3. and get a clearer picture of the truth.

For a challenge, for a designated time pay attention to what you see and talk about. Listen for your filter. What keeps coming up?

Ask yourself:

  • Why am I pointing this out?
  • What about this matters to me?
  • Where am I projecting what I believe instead of being open to what really is?

Awareness has the power to change our wellbeing, and the more well we each become, the more the collective world heals for our children, students, co-workers, and friends.

Reflect: What emotion do you see in the picture of the dog? How are you recognizing that?

Let’s connect!

Websitewww.inspiredleadershipwithin.com

Email: inspiredleadership@essdack.org

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Twitter: @TamaraKonrade @MikeSanders19 @RachelThalmann @tjfellers

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