#8 Shiba Inu and a lesson on relationships

Dear Lee Woo Sing Family,

When I was hiking in Peng Chau over the weekend, I came across a group of Shiba Inu owners who took their pets for a hike. At a rest stop, the owners lined them up for a group picture:

The two on the left refused to prone/sleep like the other four, no matter how many times the owners said “Down!” or lured them with treats. The owners even tried to gently push the dogs’ hind legs so that all of them would adopt the same position for the “perfect picture”.

After a while, the owners gave up, slightly frustrated. As the group got ready to go, however, all the dogs stood up on their own. Instead of forcing everyone to stay down, everyone is now up, and the alternative, equally perfect picture was taken:

In relationships, we often get disappointed and angry when others don’t listen to us, change, and follow our plans. The closer we are with that person (e.g., a romantic partner), the stronger our desire for that person to think and feel like us. But as individuals, our loved ones have their preferences, values, timing, strengths, and weaknesses too. When disagreements arise, perhaps we can reflect on why there is such a strong need for the other person to match our way of thinking and goals, and whether there could be similarly beautiful outcomes that we haven’t thought of, only if we try to understand and embrace their differences.

Of course, this is easier said than done. There are also times when we need to stand firm on our convictions. But being flexible with how we define our goals, pausing to allow others to be who they are, may bring pleasant surprises. 

Harold Chui, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Associate Dean of Students, Lee Woo Sing College

The Chinese University of Hong Kong