November 26, 2020 at 6:01 pm #369939
I have really good neighbors (with dogs), and I have a dog (so I don’t hate dogs, and I know they bark occasionally). Most of the time our neighbors are exceptionally good about respecting the general peace and quiet of our neighborhood, so I know this is on me. When I hear a dog start barking and it goes on for a few minutes, I get anxious. Heart rate jumps, angry thoughts increase, irritability also increases. In the past I lived behind someone who left a springer spaniel in the back yard to bark for hours and hours. I felt helpless and ignored and disrespected. This is not my current present.
I’m curious about what’s going on in my heart and mind, and how I can incorporate mindfulness to better understand this. The neighbors I’ve spoken to are understanding and respectful. I know this is me, and I want to find a way to release this.
BookloverNovember 26, 2020 at 6:09 pm #369973
I will reply to you when I am back to the computer in about 12 hours from now.
anitaNovember 27, 2020 at 4:36 am #370002
Thank you, Anita!November 27, 2020 at 7:01 am #370007
You shared that in the past, you had a neighbor who “left a springer spaniel in the back yard to bark for hours and hours”. As a result, you “felt helpless and ignored and disrespected”- you felt helpless because you (and/ or other neighbors) probably asked the bad neighbor to solve the problem, but he ignored all of his neighbors, and so, you were truly helpless against the barking. You felt ignored and disrespected because you really were ignored and disrespected by a bad neighbor, one who.. didn’t care about hurting you again and again, every day.
Currently, you have “really good neighbors.. most of the time.. exceptionally good about respecting the general peace and quiet of our neighborhood”, but when you hear one of the good neighbors’ dog bark for a few minutes, you “get anxious. Heart rate jumps, angry thoughts increase, irritability also increases”.
“I’m curious about what’s going on in my heart and mind”- an association was formed in your brain between (1) hearing a dog bark (2) believing that you are being ignored. disrespected and helpless to make the barking stop (3) feeling anxious and angry about being helpless against the barking, against being ignored and disrespected.
The bad neighbor harmed you, disturbing your peace, peace that you had a right to. Your home was invaded by barking for hours and hours. The bad neighbor harmed you this way day after day, for a long time. He knew about the harm he was causing, and he didn’t care. That made you understandably angry: it would make anyone angry.
The problem continued for too long, unresolved, felt like forever (didn’t it?). Feeling helpless for so long, the fear (that it would last forever, perhaps) and anger stirred and stirred in you with no resolution, and for too long, taking a hold in you, associated to the barking of the dog (actually hearing it and when not- anticipating it).
You were stuck in a bad situation. Like any animal that finds itself stuck in a bad situation for too long, you became anxious (an ongoing fear stirring), irritable (an ongoing anger stirring), sometimes more anxious and angry than other times.
When the bad neighbor was finally out of your life, and all you had around you were good neighbors, that anxiety and anger were still stirring in your brain- having become a mental/emotional habit associated with the barking of a dog and the anticipation of it. When you hear a dog bark, the anxiety and anger get re-triggered. When a dog stops barking, at least at times, you anxiously and irritably anticipate the next time (?)
“How I can incorporate mindfulness to better understand this.. I want to find a way to release this”-
– I very much experienced the distress you described for a long, long time, in the context of the barking of dogs as well as that of neighbors that were very noisy otherwise. I currently have a few neighbors with dogs who sometimes bark: not a lot. When I moved here, for a few years, I used to get very upset when a dog barked, anxious and angry. And the barking sounded so very loud. The following is what I personally understood and how I resolved my problem: being mindful, I found out that what distressed me so much about the barking, was the intent I assigned to the owner of the dog. I believed that the owner was trying to hurt me. Without being aware of it, I connected the barking to my childhood experience where my own mother tried to hurt me repeatedly, really having the intention to hurt me, and not caring that she did. I realized that I inaccurately projected her intent into the owners of the dogs. So, every time a dog barked, I believed the owner was trying to hurt me, and knew I was hurting.. and didn’t care.
The way I solved the problem: every time I heard a dog bark, I said to myself: the owner is not trying to hurt me, he/ she does not have this intention. Over time of repeating such thoughts, separating my current life experience from my childhood life experience, seeing that they are not the same, my anxiety and anger lessened. It’s been a long time now that I rarely notice barking, and when I do- it sounds low in volume and of short duration.
anitaNovember 28, 2020 at 5:27 am #370063
Anita, this is so thoughtful and helpful. Discerning my view of the dog owner’s intent as purposefully hurtful is a great distinction to make. I will incorporate your technique of saying to myself that the dog owner isn’t trying to hurt me. Thank you so much!November 28, 2020 at 6:04 am #370068
You are very welcome, Margaret. Feel free to post again anytime, on this topic, or on any other.