BDSM And Dog Poop

Giorgio was one of my favorite hosts. As charming as he is unruly, his gregarious character fills an entire room.

I was visiting Verona in Northern Italy a couple of weeks ago, and had the chance to reconnect with a dear friend and one of my first hosts from my couchsurfing journey around the world.

(If you’re new here, some context: back in June 2016, I left my New York City corporate life with a one-way ticket to Europe.

I challenged myself to do a social experiment in which I would circumnavigate the globe by couchsurfing using my social network… that is, sleeping in the homes of friends of friends, people I met on the road, even strangers. This journey jump-started my career as a professional storyteller!)

Giorgio was one of my favorite hosts. As charming as he is unruly, his gregarious character fills an entire room. He’s funny, outspoken, and says some seriously weird (yet wise) things.

Here he is:

Another thing you need to know about Giorgio is that he loves his dog, Bob. When I was staying with him, we’d take Bob on walks almost every day.

I remember one time, we were in the middle of the city center when Bob had to take a poo. Giorgio patiently waited, then stooped down to pick up the 💩with his baggie.

“Doesn’t that gross you out?” I said, nose crinkled in disgust (clearly, I’m not a dog owner).

“No,” He said with a big smile. “I’m proud to pick up his poop!!

“Uhh… what?” I was confused.

“I feel pride, and also humility,” he responded. “It takes courage to do this: to kneel down in front of everyone, in the middle of the city center, no matter who you are, who you’re with, or what social class you’re in.

There’s no discussion. It’s my dog, and it’s my responsibility to take care of him.”

He paused for a moment in contemplation, and added: “Some make fun of this, saying… ‘oh, so you’re happy picking up dog poop?’ Yes, my dog’s. Not someone else’s.”

…. So what does this have to do with BDSM?!

On my way to Verona, I was reading a steamy romance novel about the underground world of BDSM (for those not familiar, it stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism).

It was a love story between a male Dominant (the one who controls the action) and a female Submissive (the one who gives up control).

So the Dominant “owned” this woman  – I know for some of you this concept is really weird, but stay with me, I’m taking you somewhere 😂 – and because she belonged to him in the kink world, he was responsible for protecting and taking care of her.

There was such a deep love and trust in this bond: the Submissive was expected to completely surrender to the Dominant’s demands, which in turn allowed her to experience the ecstasy – and eroticism – of the unknown.

While this “unknown” included humiliation, degradation, and playing out strange scenes, she was still completely safe and could stop anytime with a mutually agreed upon “safe word.”

Playing into this dynamic literally meant entrusting her life and well-being to him, and that he would always take care of her no matter what weird stuff went down.

That is some *big* responsibility for the Dominant right there.

Anyway, the dog poop and kink stories somehow ended up churning in my brain and what popped out was this:

It’s our responsibility to take care of what we own. And whereas many people do this begrudgingly, the secret to deep connection and growth is actually doing what we signed up for with humility, courage, and pride.

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I thought about my business, and what a journey it’s been to get it up and running. So many times I wanted to throw the whole thing out the window in utter frustration that it wasn’t working out the way I expected it to.

And then of course, when things were going well, I would coo and love up on it.

That’s not mature, responsible love. True love is unconditional.

My business started flourishing when I stopped treating it as a thing that had to perform for me, and instead, as its own entity with its own needs that I am responsible for.

That includes picking up shit when things go wrong. In front of everyone.

It means meeting the needs of the very thing I own and control.

This looks like…

  • Taking responsibility if a member of my team underperforms.
  • Biting the bullet for months when I spent more than I earned.
  • Staying focused on the long-term, when things feel tough short-term.

Sometimes it’s even been borderline humiliating – like the time when I lost my temper with a team member after completely misinterpreting what they said 🤦🏻‍♀️– and you know what?

Beyond that humiliation is the opportunity for humility, and owning up to your shit for better and for worse. 

Being a business owner has been a humbling experience. It continues to be.

And while we can’t expect to stop being responsible for or picking up after our business’ 💩, what we can do is change how we show up for that responsibility, and how we feel about it.

You can be proud and humble, or you can be resentful and ungrateful about it. Your choice.
As Giorgio says about Bob the dog… “I mean, I pick up his poop gladly… what better way to show him how much I love him?!”

Hey, I’M CELINNE DA COSTA!

I'm a self-actualization coach and brand growth expert for CEOs, executives, and leaders. My work has been featured internationally, including Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and TEDx. I've helped thousands of visionary leaders worldwide to unlock their most powerful story from within and grow their influence, income, and impact while staying aligned to their true soul's purpose.

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