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How Dogs Can Teach Us Self-Acceptance

How Dogs Can Teach Us Self-Acceptance

It can feel hard to balance criticism with approval when it comes to bringing up children. As little kids, we likely hear different messages from parents, caregivers, and other family members who try to ‘teach us’ but can actually do more harm to our ability to love ourselves than any good they think they’re doing. Often, we grow up anxious for approval, unsure of our own value in the world, and we may feel something is missing or wrong if we don’t measure up. Animals are a great teacher when it comes to re-learning the art of self-acceptance.

Principles of Acceptance

To feel accepted and supported, children and adults need the same things: approval, love, kindness, acceptance by others for who we are, and to be taken seriously when we have something to say. Too often, children are dismissed as not knowing anything or their ideas are not as good as the adults. It takes many people to help form the basis for our personal relationships that creates a sense of self-acceptance.

Why Animals Help

Animals are great at offering unconditional love. Even an animal who has been abused may be able to offer love and compassion to the right person or people if they are invited in and taught how to love again. Dogs, especially, are great at offering children and adults a sense of feeling well and truly loved for who they are. Dogs come running to see you at the door, will lay by your feet to keep you warm, protect you from harm, and offer unconditional love and support no matter what is going on in life. Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Success is not a factor in how much you are loved by a dog
  • You are loved as you are, no matter how you look or behave
  • Dogs are people pleasers and will do anything to get your attention
  • They will love you even when it seems everyone else has abandoned you

There are myriad reasons dogs are great at teaching self-acceptance, but it is deeper than that. It is about offering you a space to learn from them how to love not only the dog, but yourself. We can be really hard on ourselves and feel like if we only could do certain things, look a certain way, earn a certain amount of money, we would be happier. The thing is, happiness is not contingent on any of those things. It is about how well we like ourselves end of the day, and really, at the end of our life. We cannot take any of it with us and we may lose lots of loved ones (dogs included) before we die, but we can learn how to love ourselves better and offer that grace and compassion to others on the journey with us.

Giving yourself some grace is a great way to practice self-acceptance. Animals like dogs help teach us how to lean into that love for ourselves and others like no humans could. Even when addiction threatens to take it all away, you always have a place to call and seek help for learning how to love yourself by getting sober. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number to get started: 866-294-9401