A couple of weeks ago we had a dog fight in our backyard. My daughter has moved home with her two dogs. In the last year, there has been some type of dog shift that no human can figure out. This is the 3rd time that Mia has attacked my dog, Sammy (Samantha). Sammy just turned 12 years old. She is a very easy going red lab that babies can crawl all over. She doesn’t even flinch. I think she considers it affection.
Mia is a little smaller than Sam. No one has any idea what the deal is…..why Mia will suddenly find the opportunity and latch on to Sammy. All I know is that I always have a vet bill after the fight. I was reflecting on the entire incident. This 3rd incident was the first time that I saw Mia’s teeth sunk deep into my dog and in a position that Sam couldn’t get her off.
One morning it came to me. Mia is like “unprocessed anger”. Anger is an emotion that hides the real emotion. When we are angry, there is an element of power….a feeling of authority…something that makes us feel better for a few minutes. But anger is actually an emotion that is hiding the real problem….the sadness….the grief…the fear….the pain. When we don’t allow ourselves to actually feel…when we resist or avoid the pain…..when we react (like Mia did)…we actually make things worse. The sadness (or whatever emotion is hiding) gets stronger and a part of us is waiting for an opportunity to express it in some way.
So we lash out. We attack. We say or do things to hurt other people – without even realizing the damage we’re causing to our relationships – the damage we are causing to ourselves.
The years pass. We bury the problem. That feels easier than dealing with it. Only in this very moment am I “seeing” the parallel of what is happening in our country. A lot of people of all colors with a lot of buried emotions….that don’t want to stay buried.So what is the answer?
It is perfectly normal for our primitive brains to tell us that “everything is okay” so that we just bury the emotion and keep on like we always have. That’s just part of a very efficient primitive brain. But the prefrontal cortex part of our brains starts telling us, “No. This isn’t okay. We aren’t going to do this anymore. We are going to explore different ways.” Mia doesn’t have a human prefrontal cortex. We have to intervene to keep Sammy safe. (No, Mia isn’t always trying to attack Sammy).
But I DO have a prefrontal cortex brain. I can make higher level decisions. I can make change. I can feel feelings. For some reason, my brain just assumes that feeling the feeling is going to be “bad”. Once a feeling has gone through me, I kind of chuckle…..it really wasn’t the hell I was expecting. And I won’t die.
And my relationships will improve…..
And my confidence will increase…..
And I can do hard things….