The rain hadn't even come yet. I didn't even know it was coming. But Anna did. I could feel her body shaking underneath my hand as she pitifully whined and panted. I know dogs can sense weather changes, but it seems so crazy to me that she seems to know in advance. I reached for my phone to look at a weather radar online and it confirmed storms were possible. Ten minutes later, I heard thunder.
I normally love storms at night. Pulling my fleece blankets up around me and snuggling deeper into my pillow. I loved thunderstorms all the way up until we got Anna. Now I dread them at night because it means no sleep for me. It means trying to talk sense into a pacing mass of nerves that doesn't understand any of my words beyond her fear. At 2am I just wanted, and badly needed, to melt into sleep. And when she jumped up onto my brand new couch where I had resolved to sleep near her, I picked up her 70 pounds and set them back on the floor.
I looked her in the eye and told her (yes, out loud) everything you are feeling and quivering about is inside of you. You are mistakenly equating your fear with the elements outside of you. Do you know what happened next? Of course you do...she whined even louder. I could have been speaking an alien language, which of course, I was to her. It is not lost on me that my words may seem alien to many people; that the emotions you are feeling on the inside are also created and dealt with on your inside. And how they are dealt with comes down to you.
"Fear can keep us up all night long, but faith makes one fine pillow." Philip Gulley
I tried to use this quote on Anna, but it fell on deaf ears until the storm silenced around 4am. If she were capable of having faith that the storm would eventually dissipate, she would not have to expend so much energy on fear.
Usman Asif wrote, "Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop."
The darkroom is only dark until one turns on a light. The word Guru means someone who leads you from darkness into light. You have that Guru inside of you. You have all of your answers and anecdotes to your fears.
And then there is this important quote, "Never let your emotions rule, but always let them testify." Robert Brault,
You have to acknowledge them but you don't have to live by them. I use this same principle in teaching meditation. When random thoughts enter the mind, acknowledge them but do not dwell on them. Let them testify with their appearance but then you take over.
Try this analogy...I am not a huge fan of balloons. I like how they look but am always fearing that, close-up, they are going to pop suddenly and scare the, well, crap out of me. Remember filling up water balloons? One at a time until your bucket was filled with these exciting but daunting missiles? Imagine those water balloons represented fear. Each fear securely knotted and tied off resting comfortably inside of its bucket, inside of you. It's happy there- it has no reason to leave. One fear after another, multiplying in number and, when you pick up the bucket you will notice it has multiplied in weight. If Anna were human, the weight she would carry is always being apprehensive about when the next storm will arrive. What weight are you carrying?
Some genius was on SharkTank and he created this water balloon device that fills and ties off about 100 balloons in a minute! What parent wouldn't want that?? But our symbolic fear is multiplying even faster. We can run over and try to pop the balloons one by one in an effort to confront and squelch our fears but...wouldn't it be simpler to turn off the water?
I get Anna the dog may not really have a choice to let go of her fears. She is not able to choose the emotional aspect of her day, but you can.
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” ― John Lennon