What Adopting a Dog Taught Me About Limiting Beliefs

When I was 14 years old I begged my parents to adopt a dog. It was the classic pleading and promising that I would do all of the work. They finally agreed that when I went to high school we could adopt a dog. I read up on all the dog training books and prepared myself to be the best dog owner. 

In the summer before I went to high school we adopted Hobbes, formerly known as Pistol Pete, a golden retriever puppy. One dog adopting tip. If you adopt a puppy named Pistol Pete, get ready for a high energy pup that needs a LOT of attention. I would say that was my first mistake was not taking into account the temperament of Hobbes and what he would need to be happy.

Well my promise to take care of the dog was broken fairly quickly because I was a 14 year old Freshman in high school going through many life changes. The stress that ensued in dealing with life's challenges as well as taking care of a hyperactive puppy, led me to having an ulcer at the age of 14. 

I had a talk with my parents and we agreed that I could not give the dog what he needed and so we had to give him away. I was absolutely crushed and felt terribly guilty. From that day forward I developed the belief that dog ownership was not for me. I also had the belief that I was a terrible owner and dogs were too hard to take care of. 

Through the years to follow I became bitter about dog ownership. Watching people treat their dogs like children and judging those kinds of dog owners. Also hearing people around me calling dog ownership frivolous and agreeing with them.  I think deep down I was judging others because inside I loved dogs and was still reeling from the guilt of giving Hobbes away and failing as a dog owner. I was projecting my own feelings of failing at dog ownership. 

Then when I was 34 years old my former co-worker Raymond, adopted Myla, a puppy from Taiwan through a rescue organization called Love and Second Chances. Raymond told me that Senna, Myla's sister, was looking for a forever home. I gave some deep thought into dog ownership again. 

The decision to make the commitment to adopt or not was an emotional battle.  My limiting beliefs from my experience in my teens that were developed in me told me that dog ownership was too difficult, I was not a good dog owner, I like my own time, I'm too selfish, dog ownership is unnecessary and there could be better ways to spend my time and money, the list went on and on. 

However, my fiance An and I made the leap and adopted Senna for a one week trial adoption. It was game over from day one and we knew we were going to keep her. We renamed her Zelda and what my mind told me about dog ownership was going to be about was all lies! My mind told me it was going to be too hard, I was a bad dog owner, I'm too selfish, it's a waste of money and time. It wasn't easy but dog ownership has been one of the biggest blessings in our lives. It can be at time difficult to take care of a dog since they rely on you, but the positives outweigh the negatives by a few football fields. Not only that, but I was a committed and pretty good dog owner and trainer. All that reading of dog training books before I adopted Hobbes finally absorbed into my brain after 20 years!

Here is a picture of Zelda as a puppy:

 

What is a limiting belief? According to changingminds.org here is the definition:

"Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit. And in doing so we impoverish our lives.

We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on. Limiting beliefs are often about our selves and our self-identity. The beliefs may also be about other people and the world in general."

My fears, limiting beliefs, assumptions were so wrong on this dog adoption issue, so I had to take a look at the other parts of my life as well. What else did I tell myself that is not true? 

Well the big limiting belief I share often on this blog is that I couldn't take the leap in quitting my job to start my own businesses. Well dog ownership lied to me, so I took the plunge and quit my stable job to go into entrepreneurship and building my own businesses. Again the limiting belief of fear and lack of belief in myself was so far from the truth. These new business ventures are not perfect, but I am feeling the most fulfilled I ever have in my life. 

There are many more limiting beliefs that I am uncovering and breaking through as well on a daily basis. Zelda also teaches me everyday to be a more present, patient, and to fully love every day.

Here are some ways to break through your own limited beliefs:

  1. Be aware of what your limited beliefs are. Ie. if you want to be a movie director what do you immediately tell yourself. Do you say go for it! Or do you immediately go to "I'm too old", "I have too many responsibilities", etc. 
  2. Speak your limited beliefs out loud. Either with a trusted friend, partner, therapist, coach, family member. 
  3. Change your language internally and externally. Rather than saying I am too old to become an actor. Why not tell yourself it is possible. These can be words out loud or repeating it to yourself internally. 
  4. Take Action and Try! Your mind tells you to not take action because it's too scary. Just because you want to be an actor or a florist, doesn't mean you have to quit your job and go all in. Why not take a weekend class and explore floral design or take an improv acting class to try it and see if it's truly something that brings you joy and fulfillment. 

Limiting beliefs are engrained in us at a very early age and continue to get stronger as we get older. However, there are ways to combat these beliefs and truly move towards your goals and dreams. 


**Bonus pictures of our reunion with Zelda's litter mates and her Mom, Luna. It was a joyful time to meet all the owners that provided homes for their dogs and to watch the dogs reunited with their siblings and running in the fields together**

Zelda and her mom, Luna:

Siblings and Mom reunited:

dogs luna meadow.jpg

Owners and dogs:

If you are looking to adopt in the Bay Area, CA, there is an amazing dog rescue organization I mentioned earlier called Love and Second Chances