Scottie Wisdom & Faith - Scottie personality
Last updated 6/14/2022 at Noon
All dogs have personality, and most dog-people choose their breed based upon that breed’s general personality traits. Scotties are known for having strong traits. Stubborn, independent, opinionated, and devoted would pretty much cover their general character. Each individual dog builds around those characteristics, creating the pet we know and love.
When adopting rescued dogs, we find that we become heir to a number of traits from their earlier home environments. Our little girl, Piper, came to us with a very subdued yet loving personality. After fixing her long-infected teeth, she quickly turned into a high-energy, affectionate little girl. But it turns out, we didn’t see all of her inner being until her bonded buddy, who we adopted with her, passed on this winter.
Chewy had a high-energy, obsessive personality. No one could play with either of the other Scotties without Chewy demanding center stage. We loved him mightily. He was a lot of fun for our grandchildren. But his passing dramatically opened up Piper’s personality; she became more expressive, with less stress in her life, and the Scottie trait of opinionated, flourished.
Dogs, like people, seem to develop coping abilities. Coping means that personality traits build up which enable one to deal with stress or fear more effectively. Piper’s personality transition started me exploring an interesting avenue of spiritual thought: the concepts of personality and individuality.
I recently finished reading a book on the subject by Mark Thurston, Ph.D., a renowned psychologist and explorer of many spiritual topics.
From a spiritual perspective, personality is the self-projection that we present to the world. Thurston says, “Jungian psychology calls (it) the persona—the mask that each of us wears and that we use to interact with the people and situations of daily living.” The mask can contain many characteristics that help us cope with difficult situations. Personality also contains inner elements, such as the self-talk used when coping with challenges.
Personality is generally me-centered, focused on self-interest and self-preservation.
The older brother in the Bible story of the Prodigal Son demonstrates the me-centered worldview of personality. The older son, who stayed at home with his father, resented his younger brother who left and squandered his inheritance and then returned home.
Big brother wanted to receive what he was “owed” for staying with his father. So, when the younger son returned and was welcomed by the father, the older brother showed his true cards and got mad. He demonstrated that he had only stayed with his father to gain a large inheritance. The older brother had been building “credits” from his good behavior, which he expected to cash in on. As demonstrated in the tale, in the long term, the older brother’s behavior, which may have looked like generosity, was actually selfish conduct.
In other words, personality carries a me-centered worldview, though for a time it may act in a generous manner.
Individuality, on the other hand, in a spiritual sense, is the authentic you. It’s the soul we constantly work to train to rise above our humanness, or as some say, take ourselves above all the human fear and darkness. People like me believe God is our core, our soul, but we must travel a long spiritual road to fully release that distinctive individual piece of God which is our true self. Our soul is the deep, beautiful, and purely unique being that we each really are.
Each of us is like a leaf on an eternal and infinite tree. As the vein patterns in each leaf on an earthly tree are as unique as any fingerprint, so are all people totally unique in our expression of God’s energy and spirit as we live in this world.
Our individuality is we-centered with a very different worldview from our personality. Individuality is focused on doing good, thinking of others’ needs, looking for the greater good, and always treating others the way we want to be treated.
Individuality’s focus is what I used to call “the double-win.” It does not put everyone else ahead of itself. Though, it may put another’s life ahead of its own safety in an emergency or it may put others’ needs first, knowing that it will receive joy and satisfaction from doing so. Generally, the concept is to value others’ needs as an equal to self. “Love thy brother as thyself.”
Individuality has a we-centered worldview. God is we-centered. He receives pleasure watching us when we are filled with joy and when we are kind and loving toward our brothers. God wants all of us to have peace and happiness.
Like little Piper, we tend to build our personality, the mask, based upon what we see in the world around us and how we think we can best cope with its challenges. As challenges change, our personality’s approach may change. This lifestyle tends to keep us locked in a me-centered survival mode, because we believe we are constantly dealing with stress and fear.
There is another way. We can begin to reach deeper into our individuality and access our we-centered core, which leads us toward God’s love and peace. Life’s real purpose for all of us, whether we recognize it or not, is to travel in search of divine love, ultimately finding God’s peace. (This philosophy is shared by many faiths and cultures besides Christianity, including Buddhists, Muslims, and many Native Americans.)
This is the road Jesus worked to show us. He knew we could achieve the same closeness to God’s love that he found, and he told us so.
My personal mission, in learning to love all people, is to always see everyone’s individuality rather than their personality. This we-centered approach then makes others easy to love.
“Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, NASB).