Wisdom From Ralph The Dog: A Kick Up The Butt

Wisdom From Ralph The Dog: A Kick Up The Butt November 25, 2022

Photo of Ralph by author

Before I share Ralph’s wisdom with you, there’s something you need to know about him. Our chunky white Shih Tzu is in love with the cardboard tubes inside toilet rolls. When a toilet roll is finished, I shout ‘it’s your lucky day!’ from the bathroom and he comes galumphing in from wherever he was in the house, mouth open, ready to receive his prize.

So picture the scene. Ralph is reclining happily on the sofa, his favourite place, on a fake fur blanket which makes it even more snuggly. It is evening – we are all quite tired, and settling in for an evening of television. Suddenly, he starts to whine. I know this whine – it is the ‘I want it!’ whine. I look around him. There is a toilet roll tube on the floor just in front of the sofa. I look back at Ralph. He continues to whine.

The parts inside a dog

I can identify with Ralph’s distress. A part of him wants the toilet roll, badly. Another part of him is very reluctant to move – it’s so comfy! It’s such a long way down off the sofa! It’s how I feel when I’m ensconced under my own fake fur blanket (and usually a dog) and I raise the possibility of a hot drink with my partner Kaspa. I hope they’ll make one for themselves and offer me one too.

What do we do when parts of us want something and other parts disagree? It depends on the thing, of course. Our parts always have good reasons for doing what they do. When it’s a conversation between a ‘wanting’ part and a ‘preventing’ part, they will have opposite agendas that are both intended to help us. The wanting part thinks we’ll be better off with the toilet roll. The preventing part thinks we’ve had a long day and we can’t keep getting up and down every five minutes – we need to rest. Cue whining.

The solution

In Ralph’s case, the solution came after a minute of whining when I began to feel irritated with him. I said ‘off!’ in a stern voice and he jumped off the sofa, as he’s trained to do. He dove towards the toilet roll tube, grabbed it, and jumped straight back onto the sofa. He settled back down, eyelids drooping, ears relaxed. Happiness!

This is Ralph’s wisdom for today. Sometimes we need a little nudge from outside to resolve our dilemmas. This nudge or gentle poke can come from outside us or from inside us – we can have a stern word with ourselves – ‘come on Satya, I know you’re tired, just get up and put the kettle on’. It doesn’t always matter too much which path we take – if it’s the wrong one, the dilemma will re-emerge – if we push ourselves for too long without a rest, our body will give us clearer and clearer signals about what we need to do.

It’s tiring being a human

We are all a complicated soup of multiple internal conversations. They get louder or quieten down depending on what else is happening, but there is often a lot going on in there. These conversations take energy. It’s complicated being a human, or a dog. No wonder Ralph needed to preserve his energy.

Regardless of what we decide, we can be gentle with ourselves. We can trust that all our parts have good, self-protective reasons for what they are doing, and that they work hard for us. When they get louder, we can listen to them in turn. We can also give ourselves a gentle metaphorical kick-in-the-butt, when we feel stuck in our whining and we something needs to shift. Thanks Ralph.

Go gently _/|\_


What internal conversations are happening inside you at the moment? What do the different parts of you want to happen? Might they need a gentle little nudge to get them unstuck?


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