We adopted our dog five and half years ago as a rescue puppy. Her mom had been hit by a car and the puppies were rescued. Because they didn’t have a mother dog, they were not trained how to behave well. Apparently mother dogs do this. We were told she was a beagle/lab and we thought she would be about 45lbs full grown. When we got her she was a hyper puppy but I’d never had a puppy before so I assumed it was normal. Our vet suggested a dog trainer and three months after we got her when my mom moved in after almost dying of a septic urinary tract infection, we decided we should check into it. I didn’t have time to train a dog. So we signed her up for 1 week of intensive boarding training. Not cheap. Half way through the week they called us to come get her. She failed out of dog training because she was so hyper they felt she needed medication. I am apparently drawn to both kids and pets with special needs. So we got her some medication but it really didn’t help that much and my life got much busier with my mom’s needs and care. Riley became a mostly outdoor dog because we just couldn’t deal with her indoors. She would run crazy and had gotten very big very fast. Fast forward five years and I decided I would try to do some more training with her. We have done some things but really not much at all. So I brought her inside and quickly realize that while she is a bit calmer not that she is older (aka she’s basically like a normal hyper puppy now, not a normal 5 year old dog) she’s still got puppy habits. She pees on rugs, chews stuff, and runs around like crazy sometimes and jumps on people. None of that was fixed by her getting older. And now that she’s had five years of practicing bad habits they will be all that much harder to break. I’m working on it with all my free time, haha. It’s a slow process.
It got me thinking about emotional and spiritual maturity, because you cannot have spiritual maturity without emotional maturity. Sometimes we are physically mature but not emotionally mature. Do you know anyone like that? lol don’t name names. We are all like that really, but some more than others. Sometimes you have circumstances in your life that get you stuck in an emotional age. Like if you have some trauma that happened in you life as a child, that could get you stuck at that emotional age unless you intentionally deal with it and move past it. Or if you are fighting an addiction you can get stuck at whatever age you started the addiction. That is an interesting one because I know most people are thinking well “I’m not a drug addict or alcoholic”. Well that’s probably true but there are many types of addiction that aren’t so obvious. So many people are addicted to busyness, video games, shopping, or pornography to name a few. Yes those all count. You can become addicted to whatever you are using to escape or numb from negative emotions. So lets say you lose your job at age 25 and then you work hard and start your own business. You are successful and making money but you can’t stop working. You are driven to make more and more money and stay busy because you think that will prevent you from experiencing joblessness again. You are running from and numbing those negative feelings you didn’t process when you lost your job. We can easy slip into this. Then one day you look up and realize you are struggling with relationships in your life and you don’t know why. It could be because you have become consumed with running from emotions by staying busy or some other numbing technique. People can’t connect with someone who is emotionally unavailable and emotionally immature.
We can all be emotional children, teens or adults depending on our level of maturity and it has nothing to do with your age. If you want to know where you stand there is a test at https://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/
It was very eye opening for me when I took it. I also highly recommend the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. It has helped me on my own journey of becoming more emotionally mature. Over the past couple of years some things have led me to realize I was not really dealing with things well and my relationships were suffering. That led me to lots of introspection and taking stock of my habits in life. Some things weren’t healthy. I was numbing feelings and not dealing with emotions, positive or negative. See you can’t just numb negative emotions, slowly you begin to not feel anything at all, and that leads to becoming emotionally unavailable to others in your life. That’s extremely lonely for you and for others around you. You can be in the room with someone, but a million miles away.
So how do you start? I have done lots of reading including the book I mentioned. I have started counseling to deal with my past hurts and present ones and develop better relational skills. I am working on learning how to have a healthy relationships with others that aren’t codependent or avoidant. I’m learning to find my own voice in my relationships, my previous self would just defer to others all the time to avoid conflict. I’m learning conflict can be healthy if done well and it’s okay. (I REALLY hate conflict, enneagram 9) I’m learning about healthy self care, it’s balance between finding out what I really need and what Instagram tells you that you need. I’m learning to process emotions instead of stuffing them by walking, praying and journaling and then processing with other appropriate people who may have caused the emotion.
My dog would have been much easier to train when she was a puppy five years ago and my emotions would have also been much easier to deal with when they first occurred too. But it’s never too late to start today, training your 70 pound puppy.