Yesterday, the Post “Good Dog? Bad Dog?” covered some obvious advantages of seeing the world through our dog’s eyes. In the context of dog ownership, and using Ray as an example, it would seem logical to conclude that if we can understand why he behaves in a certain way, then there is a possibility of changing such behavior. If we know why a dog constantly barks (e.g.), then we have an opportunity either remove the “why”, or change his reaction to it, and subsequently eliminate the barking.
Changing behavior may be complex, and we did use a Behavior Adjustment Training program in order to identify why Ray had issues with people and dogs, and gain some insight into a solution, but we have had no regrets. In fact, a more sociable and outgoing Ray, together with the extra knowledge gained, made the whole process invaluable.
While the benefits of trying to see the world through your dog’s eyes are quite obvious, using the same concept when interacting with people is also important. So often we see a situation and will react to it based on a preconceived perspective, when in fact if we understood the background to it, we could well react very differently.
We may well ignore a teenage girl who we assume is living on the street. We may well assume that she is a sex worker. We may well assume that she has drug abuse issues. We may well assume that she dropped out of school and is simply rebelling against her world. In fact we may well assume many things, all of which could be true, but what if our assumptions were totally wrong?
Regardless of her circumstances, opportunities are there for an intervention however, just acknowledging that there are potential additional explanations should at least change our perspective. Perhaps she was abused at home to the point where she decided to leave? Perhaps she was told to leave as a result of having a culturally different boyfriend? Perhaps an unplanned pregnancy dictated rejection by her family. Perhaps an evening of careless moments introduced her to an underworld of drug abuse and prostitution? Perhaps she was simply coping with what seemed like a good idea a week ago… to be independent! Perhaps she has mental health issues, and so the list goes on.
That teenage girl can, if we are open minded enough, change from a girl in the sex trade, to someone who is on the street as a result of an unfortunate past. She could well be there simply due to some poor decision making on her part. She could in fact be a well educated individual who was just struggling to cope with some unfortunate experiences.
Seeing a situation from another being’s perspective is so important in both our ultimate interaction, and our own personal growth. Who knew that sexual abuse at home could lead to an impulsive move to a large city; which could lead to sexual exploitation; which could lead to drug abuse; which could lead to that individual on the street corner who we ignored.
But what if we cannot come up with different perspectives? Then at least acknowledge that they could exist and give the individual the benefit of the doubt. Seeing a person on the street and making negative assumptions is no different from seeing a Pitbull and assuming a vicious dog.
Seeing the world from your dog’s perspective is a major tool to use when undesirable traits need to be addressed. Seeing the world from other people’s perspectives may not offer the same opportunities, but it can certainly generate a sensitivity towards a person’s circumstances and, if that sensitivity gives us the strength to at least be humane to such people (rather than ignore them), then there can be tangible positive results.