Blog: The Emotional Compass

    Do you use your emotional compass? Your animal companion does.

    The emotional compass is the process of using how you feel about an event or decision to determine if it is something you want to do or something you are feeling obligated to do and the answer to the question is directly tied to how the outcome will be, pleasant or unpleasant.

    We have all experienced it whether we recognize it or not.

    You have a wedding to attend. It is a friend of a friend, so not someone you know but you do know some people there. You don’t feel like going, but you should. And that’s when the wheels come off the wagon. You discover the suit or dress you were going to wear has a broken zipper, it’s an outdoor ceremony and suddenly the clear, sunny sky has left for other climes and your dog gets a bout of diarrhea for no apparent reason. These are all signs, but on you press and get to the event. When you get there, the person you know is busy with everyone else, leaving you to row your boat alone in a sea of strangers. Not always a bad thing, but on this day it leaves you less than pleased. Finally the thing is over and you get home to find a message on your machine that a dear friend was in town unexpectedly and would have loved to catch up over supper…but you were at the wedding and missed the opportunity. Sound familiar?

    Our companions use their compass most of the time

    Years ago I had a lovely Great Pyrenees named Sebastian when I lived in  downtown Phoenix. Because of my job and the heat, we would take our walks at all sorts of different times in order to get the coolest temperatures. Around midnight we started our walk, not an usual time in that area. It was pretty safe because Sebastian and I would only walk withint the security-walled complex and he was fairly formidable looking. Fifteen minutes in to our walk he refused to go any further, really dug his heels in and I, being, well, stupid, insisted. I was doing that familiar, ‘What is wrong with you? Stop acting like a nerd for Heaven’s sake!’ yank, yank. We hadn’t gone more than three steps when this kid comes flying out an open window running right past us with a handful of something, pauses to look at us and then starts to climb over the concrete security wall. I’m standing there like a deer in the head lights, but Sebastian knows just what to do. In a few leaps, he is racing the kid to the barrier. The misguided youth was lucky though. All Sebastian got was a tennis shoe as the robber went over the cinderblock. (He was very pleased to bring it back to me).

    Animals make decisions based on what feels right. That is their emotional compass. We are animals also so it stands to reason we would be making better decisions for ourselves if we did what felt right, rather than ‘I had better’. Are we taking this job because maybe another won’t come along or are we taking it because the thought makes you feel happy or joyful? Are we going to an event because we think it will be fun or because we should? Are we calling so-and-so because we want to see what is happening in their lives or is it a chore that needs doing since it has been awhile since we’ve spoken.

    Study your animal companion. Then practice the skill yourself and see what happens as you are guided by what makes you happy and peaceful, rather than by obligation. You will be surprised at how calm and peaceful life can be.


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