“Put some water on it so it doesn’t hurt their teeth…” My grandma likes to remind me how to feed her dogs each time I’m fixing them a meal. I purposefully ignore her though.
About a year and a half ago both of the dogs had to have multiple teeth removed due to decay caused by tartar buildup. We were told to feed them dry food at least once a day because the texture helps to clean their teeth… I have told my grandma this many times yet, she still fixes them their wet food with green beans and reminds me to soften the dry food I give them, every single time I feed them.
What’s going on here? It’s completely obvious to me that my grandma LOVES her dogs. They are so spoiled and cared for… Yet, some of her well-intentioned habits have actually harmed them. Not only that, but even upon learning this, she is still resistant to changing her perspective…
Recognizing Confirmation Bias
We’re all guilty of being blind to things. We each see life through the filters of our own experience… and my grandmother is no exception.
The dogs may have gotten dental issues due to their eating habits, but eventually their dental problems reinforced my grandma’s feeding them only soft food. Their teeth did hurt, she was right – but now that the bad teeth are out, we have to change things or we’ll end up in the cycle of doggy dental decay all over again.
That’s why I don’t listen to my grandmother. That’s why I’m sure to feed the dogs myself at least once a day… Not because I don’t understand where my grandma is coming from, and not because the dogs prefer dry food (not even a bit), but because change is what needs to happen and right now I am able to be its agent.
Releasing Judgment and Control
This isn’t exactly ideal. I hate having to ignore my grandma, but what’s the alternative? I have tried to educate her but she’s 85 and in many ways decidedly that “old dog” who doesn’t want to learn new tricks.
It certainly doesn’t make sense for me to force my grandma to change her ways, instructing her with the truth until I’m blue in the face. It also doesn’t make sense to just let her go on feeding the dogs incorrectly either though. So here I am, in the less-than-ideal reality.
All is well. I don’t need things to be ideal, I don’t need my grandma to understand and I don’t even need the dogs to like their dry food. Just as everything is, in all it’s imperfect realness, all is well.
I can do my part, I can be the agent of change, I can take action and simply release control. No, I won’t be here forever, but while I am I can do these special things that I am aware of and therefore responsible for. When I do leave, I will pass on the knowledge and be okay with that.
I won’t ever be able to ensure the dogs are getting fed in a way that helps keep their teeth clean while I’m not around, but that’s a part of it too. Accepting responsibility for co-creating a better world doesn’t mean your responsible for everything, all the time – it means you do what you can while you can.
Enjoying Life’s Little Imperfections
For now, even with the dogs scowling and grandma chiming in, I feel blessed to have opportunities to provide these little canines with thoughtful nourishment. I also feel blessed to be able to recognize and see what’s going on without judgement.
I am grateful for the opportunities even this little situation gives me to reflect and learn about how humans operate. It certainly helps me to look out for my own biases and ignorance too – or at least remain more open to entertaining cognitive dissonance.
Life will never be perfect. We will never be able to control situations entirely, even if we are “right” and have truth on our side – and that’s okay. This journey isn’t ours alone and we are all learning, but by releasing control we can simultaneously step into our power and subjective truth whilst also allowing for others to experience theirs.