Changing Opinions

Some of you know this about me, but I grew up on a farm. My family has always had a dog. I can remember 3 dogs from my time on the farm. All three of them were Norwegian Elkhounds. All of them named Duke - Duke I, Duke II, …and you guessed it…Duke III. (I know, how original! Lol)

All of the dogs were farm dogs. They had a job to do: protect the chickens, bark warning when someone came on the yard, keep deer and predators away from the farm. These dogs were outside dogs and were not house dogs. However, occasionally on frigid cold winter nights, they were let into the porch on a mat, but were not allowed anywhere else inside the house. 

Honestly, I grew up with a strong opinion about indoor dogs: they were ridiculous. I would never have one. Imagine all the hair inside your house! (Norwegian Elkhounds shed a lot of hair…and those were the only dogs I knew.) And the pooping! Picking up warm poop with a tiny plastic bag…gross. I would NEVER get a house dog.

It’s funny how life goes… 

Now, I live alone in a house in town and a few weeks ago, I glanced out my living room window and, like so many times before, I saw a man walking his dog. (There are a lot of dogs here.) But something was different this time. I found myself asking the question, “Why don’t I have a dog?” 

This challenged my strong opinion about dogs inside the house. I began to realize that I wanted a dog but I have never allowed myself to think about it because it would be an indoor dog and, according to my strong opinion, that was just NOT allowed.

Now I was stuck. Do I stand in the way of what I want because of the strong opinion I have? Or do I change my opinion, break my own rules, and get a canine companion? 

Changing a strong opinion is not easy, especially if your family or a group you belong to all share the same strong opinion. 

But something that your family or the group you belong to doesn’t share is your life. Sure, you may tell them about it, explain it in detail to them, but they don’t know what it is like living in your skin in your specific situation with all your specific past experiences. It can be difficult to risk losing acceptance, belonging, or approval in order to change your opinion and live the life you desire. But ultimately, it is your life, not theirs.

Changing your opinion is also challenging because often we have a sense of identity attached to our opinions - a “this is who I am” kind of attitude. I defined myself by my opinion of indoor dogs: “I am not an indoor dog person.” So, if I changed my opinion about indoor dogs, I’d be changing my identity! That’s not easy.

It isn’t “wrong” to have an opinion. And it isn’t wrong to live your life in alignment with your opinion. It’s actually healthy to live aligned with your opinions (and more importantly your values). 

But don’t hold on to your opinion simply for the reason of “I have always been this way”. You are holding yourself back from growth, because growth requires change, and change is different than “who you have always been”. 

Holding on to your opinion simply for the reason of “I have always been this way” could be holding you back from something great. A new adventure, a new experience, a new and evolved version of you.

Allow your opinions to change. Be open. Explore and question your opinions. Ask yourself, “Are these opinions serving me, and are they serving who I say I want to be?” 

What opinions are defining you? 

Do they serve you and who you say you want to be?

If not, do you dare to change them?

PS. I dared to change my opinion about indoor dogs. I now have a canine companion. His name is Toby. And I am happy I dared to be different.

Here’s to conquering stress.

With heart,

The Stress Experts

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