Archive for July, 2013

Learning How to Live Better From my Dog

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Let me start out by saying that my dog didn’t actually teach me how to live better. But she played a key role in my learning the suggestion I’m going to share with you.

Here’s how:  I’m a dog lover, but I don’t like a dog’s incessant barking any more than the next person. However, when my dog barks, I know there is a reason for it. Usually it’s because she’s heard or smelled someone or something she thought was a threat, and she wants to let me know.

Knowing that, what I’ve learned to do is to tell her, “Thank you for letting me know about the danger, Addie. I’ll take over and take care of us now.”

Telling her that reassures her and she stops barking.

Now this may surprise you, but I think there is a way in which our behavior is similar to a dog’s. Here it is: Like dogs, we have a threat detection mechanism that is running whenever we’re awake.

But while our behavior is similar to a dog’s, there are of course some differences. One of them is that, as you know, we don’t bark. Our threat detection mechanism doesn’t cause us to do that.

What it does instead is to respond to perceived threats by making the voice inside our head start talking to us. If the perceived threat is a stranger, the voice will very likely start judging him.

If the perceived threat is new ache in our body, the voice may start telling us that maybe that’s the first sign of another illness, or even cancer. If the perceived threat is the fact that our partner is late getting home, the voice may tell us that something has probably happened to him or her.

I could give many more examples, but I hope you’re seeing how, even though it may have sounded farfetched at first, the voice inside our head is similar to a dog’s bark.

And because it is similar, then just as I told my dog I was taking over and was going to take care of us, we can quiet that voice by telling it that we’re taking over and will take care of ourselves.

Of course, we need to follow through and do that. And whether we realize it or not, we are all capable of doing that.

So the next time the voice in your head starts reacting to perceived threats and telling you how bad things are, I invite you to let it know that you are going to take over and take care of yourself. And then do it.