What My New Dog Has Taught Me About Objectification & Self-Love

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Last week, we welcomed a new dog into our home. Roscoe’s little sister. Birdie.

It wasn’t something we expected. Our summer is crazy enough, as it is. After weeks of travel in the row, it was the last thing we thought would happen.

Still—it’d be on our minds for a while. Roscoe was ready for a sibling to play with. And we had talked about it off and on for the last six months. So, about two weeks ago, we were mindlessly surfing rescue websites when we saw her.

Garrett, who was admittedly more hesitant than I was, fell in love immediately. He knew it without a doubt. That’s our dog. We found it.

And we drove two hours to meet her less than a week later. Once the dogs got along great, we took her home that day.

It’s been an adjustment to go from a family of three to a family of four. In ways I didn’t expect. I mean, their personalities couldn’t be more different. And their needs for training and parenting are polar opposite.

So I’ve had to discover parts of myself I didn’t know were in there. I’ve had to see how I’m the quiet, careful, sensitive, intelligent Roscoe. And the energized, exuberant, too playful, too aggressive, “too much” Birdie.

In my Mastermind, as we’re exploring subjectivity and objectification, someone said something about parenting that really stuck with me. She said—of her sons—that her and her husband resolved to have no expectations. That these beautiful children came into this world with their own subjectivities—being their own fully formed people, in their own right. And her job was simply to help them unfold into who they are more. And not make them who she thought they should be.

It was powerful. And, although I don’t have my own human children, it made me conscious of the ways in which I want to help my dogs deepen into themselves. To see their full subjectivities. And not expect them to be something they’re not. Even when that’s challenging for me.

It’s made me think a lot about all of the people in my life. And, maybe especially, myself. All of the ways that I dishonor my own subjectivity. Which is just another way to say objectify myself.

The ways in which I wish I were different. Or I tell myself, “I shouldn’t be upset here.” Or I try to fit in with the hegemonic norms. Or I hide parts of my own shame. Or I overharvest my socially validated, “praiseworthy” attributes.

Objectification is always conditional. Because it comes from conditioning.

I can be loved, powerful, and worthy if I’m smart or successful or in a happy relationship or in a beautiful home or whatever. I will be more loved, more powerful, more worthy when I grow my business to a certain point or have a certain amount of money or am a bestselling author.

It’s painful to think of how many times I’ve objectified myself in my life. How many times I put conditions on my own self-love.

Maybe if my body looked a certain way. Or I had a certain amount of money. Or the right relationship or friends. Or the right clothing or haircut.

As I look at my beautiful dogs next to me—never dreaming of changing one thing about them, even when those things are challenging or difficult for me sometimes—I wonder if I can be that kind of parent to myself.

Can I love my sensitive, intelligent, cautious side and my adventurous, loud, “too much” side? Can I honor when I need different kinds of support, and let that be okay?

Can I love myself, regardless of how much money I make or how I look that day? Can I feel equally worthy and powerful, regardless of what I’m doing?

Can I know that shame and praise are two sides of the same coin—dichotomizing my Divinity into Repressed judgments?

Can I allow myself to feel that shame and know that nothing I can do can make me any less lovable, powerful, or worthy? No matter what?

My home is an interesting home. Because it’s so open concept with light from French doors and skylights all over, I see everything. I also see what the dogs are up to. Because they’re always in eyeshot.

And it makes me think about myself. Can I see it all—my bank accounts, my relationships, my business, my happiness, my shame—without judgment? Can I actually just look around and see it?

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life Repressing the shame. What I didn’t want to see. But how can I ever learn to learn what I can’t see?

Today, I’m seeing everything in my life. And removing the conditions—and conditioning. To love it. No matter what.

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