We're so excited to introduce a new blog series on dogs and how they can bring a sense of joy and peace into people's lives. Guest author Lily of @sadie_pink is kicking off this series about why we should all be connecting with our canine friends for the sake of our mental health. This is the story behind why Worry Less Wag More exists! We hope this blog will inspire readers to appreciate their furry pals in an even deeper way.
Every day there is such pressure to conform and to act a certain way. You always need to be on guard and act appropriately. When asked how you are, you are expected to nod and say fine then walk on. You are expected to laugh at occasional jokes. Whilst be solemn at other events.
Your face needs to be knitted into a bored expression. Don’t react if the train is delayed or if you are kept waiting at an appointment. No everything is always just fine. You can’t scream your frustration if something isn’t fair. No, you must just conform. A part of life is to appear expressionless and appear not bothered by anything.
You must be ready to break into a smile when seeing someone and prepare to appear overly excited for the next 15-minutes of small talk where nothing is really exchanged.
You must listen at a restaurant and laugh if something funny is said even if it isn’t funny, but you mustn’t laugh too long or too loud. If you find something genuinely funny then you must make a conscious effort to stop laughing after a while or your labelled mad or drunk.
You need to sit upright at the table even if your have a tummy ache and you hate the food. You have to say you slept well when staying the night somewhere and that the temperature was fine even if the bedsheets were scratchy, and the temperature was boiling.
You need to say it is completely ok if an appointment, you rearranged your whole day for, is cancelled - even if you want to scream.
Life is so unpredictable and constantly a wave of emotions is awoken inside me. I used to want to cry and scream if the train was late. But I couldn’t. I want to hug my favorite person every time I see her. But I don’t. I want to hide behind a tree when I see someone I don’t really want to talk to. But I don’t. I want to break down and cry when I’m told frustrating news. But I pretend I don’t care. I want to tell people at the table that their jokes aren’t funny, and the conversation isn’t interesting. But I sit politely with a smile on my face. I want to laugh when something is funny and smile when I’m happy, but I’m scared my laugh will sound weird and that I won’t stop at the right time.
I am so scared of letting my facial expressions do whatever they like and letting my true inner reactions shine through, for fear of being labelled as difficult or spoilt or demanding. The result is I just appear bored and unfazed, even when happy.
Life is so fast. People move on and grow up so quickly. The pressure to keep up is intense and sometimes I feel like I have just learnt how to balance on one rung of the ladder when everyone around me is already moving on. But I mustn’t complain, I mustn’t cry or breakdown because the world expects adults to just get on with it. So, I knit my face into the bored, expressionless mask and try to climb higher, not allowing anyone else to see the fear I feel or hear the thumping of my heart. No, I pretend I don’t care and that I am unfazed by the fast-paced world that I am lost in. The effort it takes to make my face appear bored and expressionless means I can’t focus on anything else, so I am completely zoned out of the world. To let myself process the world, is to let myself process the unbearable and the reality of how scared and behind I feel. So, I don’t. I appear expressionless and unfazed, and I don’t react.
The number of emotions inside me still exist and the worlds of emotions inside me don’t like to be repressed for too long. Eventually they come out.
The fact that the people in the world move so fast makes me feel like an alien because I feel like I just don’t fit in.
But animals don’t move as fast as humans, animals don’t put the same pressure as humans do on you to mask. Animals take things slow and leisurely and there is no pressure. Walking your dog. Leading a horse. Walking through a field of sheep. No pressure. Just at the pace you need to go. Breathe.
Nature doesn’t mask. Nature pours with rain and has massive storms. The trees wave freely and unrestrictive. The sun shines and the bird’s tweet. Everything is natural and there are no restrictions on the weather or the behaviour of an animal.
In the middle of the woods when I’m with my dog, I can breathe. I can cry if I want. I can yell my frustration or cry my fear. I can run around with my dog letting it all out. The freedom of being with an animal in nature is my medication. The daily doses I make sure I get where I am not surrounded by fast-paced humans or the uncertainty the world brings or the competition of life is something that keeps me stepping another step and keeping me going. Because in nature I find my purpose. The unique individual purpose you can only discover in nature when you are not competing with life or trying to stay afloat. No nature accepts you wholeheartedly where you are at. Nature and being with animals allows you to breathe and steady yourself and find your core, giving you that inner strength to go out into the world again. If it is hard and you get scared, animals allow you to cry and my dog will never judge me or ask for a reason why. My dog accepts my tears.
But at the same time animals need you to show emotion in order to listen and respond. You need to show authority in order to train a dog. My dog and so many other animals show me that its sometimes a necessity to take off the mask as otherwise people just don’t respond. Through spending time in nature and with animals, I am being taught how to react and that its ok to show emotions. Animals and nature is teaching me that its ok to show emotions.
So through spending time with animals and nature, I am slowly learning that it is ok and actually healthier to show my emotions and there are some very kind people in the world who don’t judge and who will accept you no matter what.
Despite this, there are still days where ‘I am only talking to my dog’.
You can follow Lily and her amazing therapy dog here: https://www.instagram.com/sadie_pink/