From Indy

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There are a bunch of new dogs at our Florida barn this year. I met a few of them yesterday. I felt a little shy and out of place. They’ve already bonded in a ”pack” and weren’t sure they wanted me to join in. One of them snapped at me, and they all ran off leaving me standing alone. I struggled with hurt feelings and a sense of isolation. It hurt.

A friend of Jane’s recently wrote about an incident that hurt his feelings and that reminded me of how I felt with the new pack of dog friends. This fellow brought some cavaletties to his new equestrian center so he could work on his horse’s rhythm and conditioning. When he was done riding, he left the cavalettis along the side of the arena, thinking other boarders might want to use them. But instead of using them, the established “pack” of boarders became angry and criticized him as too lazy to put his tools away. This hurt him, as his intentions were to be generous and caring of others, not lazy or thoughtless. To have his act of kindness turned against him by the established group stung and made him want to leave the barn.

This kind of event is called a “break in belonging.” It is one of the most painful things a person goes through, and it has a profound psychological effect. Children, especially, will make life-long decisions about themselves and their place in the world based on these “breaks.” The effect these events have on a person’s psyche cannot be overstated.

So what do you do when you have a “break in belonging”? First of all, recognizing what’s going on will help take some of the sting out of the event. Self-examination can increase personal wisdom and improve future choices. Do you need to apologize? Do you need to change your behavior? Would it be helpful to explain your actions to the leader of the group?

Some unhealthy groups form and become stronger because they pick a common “enemy” to give them a sense of belonging. Recognizing the “pack mentality” and knowing it says more about them than it does about you, gives you the opportunity to step back and take a look at what’s really going on. Then you get to decide if this is really a group that fits your core values or if is it a toxic group with whom you would be wise to remain an outsider.

It’s easy for me to tell you not to let the feelings of rejection bother you. I understand what’s happening, and it still bothers me. These “breaks in belonging” happen to everyone, no exceptions. It’s up to each of us to decide whether we should try to “fix” the break, or let it go and move on.

I decided to change my focus, find my good friend Geoffrey, and have a fun day playing with him. Later, the other dogs saw us, and eventually we all played a great game of hide and seek together. I decided to focus on the fun, and ignore the past negative feelings. And I ended up having a terrific day!

What are YOU focused on today? Remember, whatever you focus on, you get more of! Decide to focus on having a GREAT day!

Love, Indy

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  1. […] From Indy | janesavoie.comJan 25, 2012 … A friend of Jane’s recently wrote about an incident that hurt his feelings and that reminded me of how I felt with the new pack of dog friends. […]

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