i’m looking after my neighbour’s dog for the next four days and was given instructions on how to look after the dog yesterday. a cup of dog food in the morning, a cup at night. let him roam during the day and put him in the house at night if he wants in, or leave him outside if he prefers. pretty straightforward.
but today, another neighbour came over to ask if i was looking after the first neighbour’s dog. i said yup. this second neighbour said he could feed the dog tonight because it always gets fed at 5:30 pm. i thought, that’s weird. the dog’s owner didn’t mention a specific time. then this neighbour asked if i was going to lock the dog on the deck at night. i said i had been told to put him in at night if he wants, or leave him out. the non-owner said it was important to lock the dog on the deck so he didn’t wander at night. again, i thought, this is really odd. why is another neighbour, who does not own this dog, telling me how to look after it, and why is he telling me something different from what the owner said? then he told me that he would basically keep the dog with him at his place during the day.
i rolled with it though since he seemed eager — anxious, even — to look after the dog, and i was in a rush to leave for work. but almost as soon as he left, i began dwelling on the interaction. i didn’t like it at all. the dog’s owner asked me to look after the dog, not the nosy second neighbour, and i spent 15 minutes with him yesterday so he could show me how to do the job. why should i now do something differently because of a weird busy body?
on the drive to work, i felt myself getting really hot under the collar. i have this second neighbour’s phone number and thought i should call him as soon as i get to work and tell him to butt out. i started getting butterflies in my stomach, i was so pissed and looking forward to letting him have it.
and i thought, why does it feel so good to let yourself get angry?
to which i replied, it doesn’t feel good to let yourself get angry. it actually feels lousy. it’s just that it’s much easier than calming yourself and dealing with the stressor in a smarter, more productive way. the ease of letting yourself blow up is very seductive but i learned a long time ago that i feel better when i take some deep breaths, put the problem out of my mind for a bit, calm down, and come back to it later with a better attitude.
i will still probably have a conversation with this jackass neighbour and say basically the same things, but i will say them in a calmer, more controlled manner which will allow me to retain control of both myself and the overall interaction. that’s definitely not as seductive as letting myself fly off the handle and stick my finger in this guy’s chest while i tell him what’s what, but it will make me happier in the long run. and i feel good about striving to be a better person…
…but i LOVE achieving the upper hand in social situations through careful self-awareness and self-control. that is the goal that seduces me.