Dr. Patricia McConnell has spent her life studying her two favorite species: people and dogs. I invited her to come on UNLEASHED (at work & home) to talk about emotions.
In this fascinating discussion, she shared many great insights.
- Why do we have emotions? What are they good for?
- How do dogs' emotions compare with human emotions?
- When do emotions help us? When do emotions get in our way?
- What should you do when you feel your emotions taking over?
One of Patricia McConnell's many gifts is her ability to take complex scientific information and relate it to real life.
I nod off while trying to read articles published in scientific journals. I'm so grateful there are scientists doing important work, but I'm particularly grateful for the folks who'll plow through all that dry material and then share the key takeaways with me.
Life is too short to be bored, and Patricia McConnell is never boring!
We talked about the value of observing your emotional state. It can change in a split second, and when your emotions change, your behavior changes as well. She mentioned how challenging it can be to spot an emotion when it pops up: "Oh, hello, fear."
I shared a concept I've found helpful--the 3 N's.
- Notice. Often people aren't really aware of their emotional state and the physical sensations that accompany it. Take a moment to notice how you feel.
- Name. Identify which emotion you are feeling. You can start with the basics (happy, sad, angry, anxious, disgusted) and, as you get better, begin to notice the nuances (e.g., content and elated both fall within the happy category, but don't really feel the same).
- Navigate. Make a plan for how you want to respond to this emotion. Far too often, we react without thinking and then spend our time replaying situations over and over in our heads. That's exhausting and unhealthy. Far better to take a moment and make a plan.
Patricia McConnell writes about dogs, people, and life. She blogs regularly (to an audience of 45,000) and has written many books. Some of her most popular titles include
- The Education of Will: A Mutual Memoir of a Woman and Her Dog - an honest, vulnerable, and educational exploration of trauma and recovery
- For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend - I recommend that all of my clients with reactive dogs read the fear chapter of this book. (Well, I recommend they read the whole book, but if they aren't big readers, I tell them the fear chapter will change the way they see their dogs.)
- The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs - an exploration of human behavior and how dogs might interpret our actions.
She also shared some thoughts about Wild: An Elemental Journey, by Jay Griffiths, in which the author argues that by focusing so much on our cognitive abilities, humans are losing touch with some of our more instinctive knowledge of connection to one and other and to the world.
Note: I may earn a small commission on any books or products recommended on this page. I only include products my guest or I have used and recommend. UNLEASHED (at work & home) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
How does an awareness of your emotional state help you?
Share what you do and how it helps you in the comments below.
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