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On the Therapist’s Couch Series.
One dog asks his friend. “What’s your name? His friend replied. “My name is Charlie. What’s your name?” The first dog replies. “My name is BAD DOG!
If we do bad things, does that make us wholly bad? I don’t think so, within limits. When dogs and children misbehave or do what we think is bad, we still love them. However that doesn’t mean that we tolerate bad behavior. We try to kindly but firmly teach them the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
There are some who advocate the ‘naughty step or ‘time out’ in their bedroom.’ Some parents still smack their children although there is alot of debate about the wisdom of this. I often say to couple’s who come for marriage counselling or relationships therapy. “Love is clearly not the issue here, but behaviors are.” In society, we lock people up, when they cross societal lines such as theft and violence etc.
The opposite is also true. Individually we can be good people and help others, be generous and kind to our friends and also to strangers. Australians are known for communities coming together in difficult times, like floods and bushfires etc. Yet good people also have a ‘shadow side’ which given certain circumstances can manifest and be acted out.
Carl Jung said, “Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”
Concepts of good and bad also change over time and within different cultures etc. However, there is a universal understanding and agreement overall what we understand as thinking, feeling and acting in a beneficial or a hurtful way.
A good quote from Brene Brown. “I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name just a few.”
Napoleon Hill said, “In every adversity, there lies a seed of equal or greater benefit.” So, do all the disappointments and failures. They come to guide us, teach us, and make us think about things we never would otherwise learn otherwise.”
Taking time to process both sides of ourselves, the elements of ‘good and bad’ within us is vital, if we are to live a more conscious and aware life. Then the choices we make in our daily life comes from a more whole place from inside of ourselves.
So the ‘bad dog’ is not inherently bad, but just does ‘bad’ things like digging holes in the garden, chewing slippers, stealing the dinner off the table, and running off.
Which, of course is part of the joy of being a dog! Perhaps if human beings could be ‘bad’ only in that way, we would live on a more peaceful and happy planet!
‘We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given a life. It’s up to us to make it good or bad.’