He who barks the loudest

One time while visiting my partner, I was greeted by loud barking as I pulled up in his driveway. Now I knew this wasn’t Silas! A friendly and warm Great Pyrenees who could not hurt a fly!

I was right, it wasn’t this sweet gentle giant but another dog half the size of Silas but with much more of a bark! My partner was babysitting another dog, Carter while his owner was away at the beach. This dog is nothing like Silas. He is half the size of Silas but louder and more barky. When I walked into the house Silas greeted me warmly as he usually does but Carter was growling and barking in a very loud tone that was mean and menacing. I was terrified LOL.

After Carter settled down and sat quietly in the corner, I decided to go and be kind and pet him. It was a nice thought but the minute I tried to touch Carter he bared his teeth turned around and snapped at me! Thank God I have lightening quick reflexes! I recoiled my hand in horror and retreated quickly to the safety of the corner of the room.

After Carter attempted to bite me, he went to the closet and got his stuffed animal and then went under the desk and hid underneath my partner’s legs. I was completely perplexed by this seemingly aggressive yet vulnerable creature, what gives?

 Well I later found out that Carter was an abandoned dog and because of his abandonment and hurt inflicted by the family who previously owned him, he had developed trust issues with humans. He wasn’t treated very kindly by the family before and there was a lot of pain and suffering still rampant in him.

 Ahhhh, it makes sense and I could see that now. As I thought about this dog, I thought to myself….how many people are like this dog? We have heard the term before right? “Hurt people hurt people”…..its akin to a barking dog. Sometimes the dog that barks the loudest…is the most hurt dog of all.

No there is another type of barking dog that demonstrates hurt and pain. The dog that is constantly barking…and that is the one I want to talk about today.

See aside from Carter’s growling and attacking anyone who comes close to him (outside of his inner circle), he is also constantly barking. And in hearing that, we can relate it back to people we also know in life who are constantly talking about themselves right? Ahhh now you get it.

As a teacher and mentor at Lotus Wellness Center, I frequently have one or two students who disrupt class flow with their personal stories, oversharing or wanting to discuss their own issues in class. For many students it is annoying and I frequently get a stern talking to from students after class either in person or through email.

 “Uma you need to be a better moderator in class. I didn’t come here to listen to someone else talk about their issues.”

“Uma I am paying for class to hear you speak!”

“Uma you need to talk to her and put her in her place. Why does she take up so much time in class talking about her stuff?”

Thankfully I managed to find a common ground between my need to let these people speak and also respect class time so we don’t run over or miss anything I actually have to teach on.

You are probably wondering at this point, but why Uma? why even allow them the chance to divert class attention? Because like Carter, the people who bark the loudest need the most attention and compassion.

See I realized a long time ago that people who take up class time discussing their life or struggles or accomplishments, just needed a place to talk….because more than likely they don’t have the support system in their own lives where they either are appreciated or honored for their gifts and achievements. In worst case scenarios, they may be in unhealthy relationships or surroundings where not only are they not recognized, but they are also criticized for every little thing they do. What a life to be in!

 I mean think about it, why would people want to willingly talk about themselves, share personal information or ‘brag’ about their accomplishments? What are they seeking?

Of course the first things that come to mind are fame, recognition and accolades. Yes that is true, but dig deeper. Why would someone want recognition or praise? Many reasons can come up but for me the most pressing ones are: Validation, Approval and Love.

 I had a friend who would constantly talk about her achievements to me and I would always respond with support and enthusiasm. Later on she confided in me that she frequently turned to me to talk about her accomplishments because she couldn’t do it with people in her inner circle as they would be negative or condescending. How tragic!

 Sometimes when people talk about their accomplishments in life, we tend to feel like they are showing off or bragging, so we develop hurt feelings or feel like they are trying to put us down. Maybe some people are truly like that (pray for them!) but for the most part, people just want to celebrate a job well done and receive validation for that.

 Can you give them the validation and approval they are seeking?

Test it out in your own life. I am sure you have someone like this you know. An over talker, or over sharer that you maybe see in social settings, business meetings or even family gatherings. Wherever you see them, practice being mindful, develop compassion and if you can, hold space. Everyone needs love and attention, and if they cant get it at home, where else do they turn to? Which ever social situation where they feel accepted and safe. It is a compliment really to you…that someone feels safe enough to share what they feel or do. See the compliment behind the actions and respond by showing up and being supportive. I guarantee it will change the lens on your world view.

In closing, I want to address the people that read this blog and identify themselves as this kind of person. I know you are reading and probably thinking, “Oh my God this is me! Is this how people view me? as a nuisance and disruptive?” but I ask you not to berate yourself or feel shame or pity. Remember that we are ALL working on something or some aspect of ourselves that we are seeking to change. Today the focus is on you, but tomorrow the focus will be on someone else. There is no shame in learning, processing and growing, there is only encouragement and support.

The next time you feel the need to overshare or take up someone else’s time and feel it is inappropriate, ask yourself, “What am I seeking by sharing this story with the group?”

“How can I share the group so the focus is on the topic and not on me?”

And if you are really truthful with yourself, allow the question to come up, “Why do I need others approval and I can’t develop it for myself?” In that question alone, you will be amazed at what comes up and the growth that can develop for it.

 love and light,

xo Uma

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