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Tracy Courtney

Emotional Momentum

We are all familiar with occasions where our thoughts & emotions have escalated, taken over & run away with us. Some circumstances may begin as small annoyances but as we dwell on them mentally, playing it over & over in our minds, the emotions attached to these thoughts gain momentum & get stronger & stronger. If we were to take some time to thoroughly recall & analyze a particularly emotional event in our life from a disconnected & observational viewpoint, especially an event that caused hurt & anger, we would agree that the emotional momentum of these situations took an extremely long time to stop completely. For some of us, the momentum never did come to a complete halt & we can carry residual momentum for years or even a lifetime. We even refer to these events as traumas in some cases.


If we were to turn a bicycle upside down & spin the tire as fast as possible, then place our hand on the wheel with the intention of stopping the momentum of the spin, the tire would not stop instantly. With resistance from the force of our hand, the tire would begin to slow down gradually before it was capable of coming to a complete stop, but we know that it will stop much sooner if we continue to affect the momentum. Subsequently, when we reach a state of heightened emotional momentum, it's impossible for us to simply turn it off. It requires a lengthy period of time & often the help of a friend or family member, to help us slow our emotional roll & return to a more balanced mental & emotional state of being.


The combination of the ability to express how we feel & the assisting guidance of the other person, allows for the release of some if not all of these unbalanced emotions, so they can be replaced with a more balanced state. We often feel much better after having expressed ourselves & have relaxed enough to where we can begin to think rationally again & start to take small steps toward a resolution. During many discussions with people & the problems being experienced with their pets, there is a commonality. The dog or horse is eliciting an unwanted behaviour & the human is unable to redirect that behaviour. It is often stated that every time they try to stop the behaviour, the pet immediately returns to doing the behaviour as soon as the human stops trying whatever it is they're doing to try to change the behaviour. 


At the onset of the unwanted behaviour, the human perceived the behaviour as a problem & made a decision to try to stop the behaviour. This was accompanied by unbalanced feelings of impatience, annoyance, anger, frustration or maybe concern, depending on the situation. All of these thoughts about the behaviour revolve around a negative mindset, not a curious, interested or questioning as to why the behaviour was happening in the first place. This eliminates a significant piece of the puzzle if we want to begin to truly understand the root causes of behaviour.


When we approach situations from a negative perspective to begin with, this will inevitably lead to negative & limited outcomes. How can we begin to show our pets how to find mental & emotional balance if we aren't prepared to begin to teach what we're really looking for from our pets? If we look at this from another perspective, in approaching situations from an unbalanced mental & emotional state, there is no choice but to promote more unbalance. It's these habitual feelings of looking at behaviour as a problem, impatience, frustration, anger, etc, that we carry into the situation that will lead into one of the greatest sources of connection & communication breakdown & inevitably lead to us quitting what we're trying to achieve, thereby teaching our pets the opposite of what we're trying to achieve.


We must begin to recognize our pet's as well as our own thoughts & feelings in these situations. We must begin to recognize how our thoughts & feelings carry an escalating momentum when out of balance & how they can take over & carry us away, until we feel overwhelmed & helpless. We must begin to recognize the mechanisms in our own habits that are responsible for helping ourselves become calmer & how long this process can take in some cases. How these habitual mechanisms not only prevent us from completing the steps we've embarked on for change with our pets but with ourselves as well. 


Recognizing these habits in ourselves first is the only way we can begin to look at our pets differently & see the correlation of mirroring of our own behaviour. Only then can we begin to apply these correlations to our pets & how they're feeling in this moment. Recognition of ourselves in our pet's behaviour is the only way to shift our negative perspectives & begin to take the time to help our pets through the behaviour we have unintentionally taught. 


When we can begin to recognize this reflection of ourselves in our pets, we can begin to approach behaviour out of a balanced sense of inquisitiveness, curiosity & understanding. This is where we will begin to slow down, take the time & patience necessary to help our pets work through their behaviour at their pace & not be so willing to give up & quit, thereby solidifying the unwanted behaviour deeper for both. And this is where we will stop blaming our pets for their behaviour & begin to understand how we are responsible for every single behaviour.


This is where removing the feelings of impatience, frustration, anger & blame will allow us to be in the moment with our pets. This in turn, will allow us to take the necessary time to help our pets slow their own emotional momentum, until they can return to a balanced mental & emotional state. This first success & new insight will open a new door that we didn't know was possible when we can begin to understand our own behaviour & how it affects everything we do with our pets.


To simplify, our pet's emotions escalate & gain momentum, just as ours do. As with the bicycle tire, we can't expect the wheel to stop spinning if we choose to place our hand on it & then quit trying after only a few seconds. If we make a decision to redirect a particular behaviour, we must be willing to take the necessary time needed to redirect until all of the momentum has been taken out of the tire & it's ready to stop the motion. If we quit the redirection too early, we can't expect the tire to stop & our anger & frustration are a result of our choices, not the tire for continuing to spin.


When we begin to understand that it was our own biased opinions that allowed the spark to ignite in the first place & allowed the momentum to build into this inferno, only then will we begin to recognize that we are responsible for the behaviour. We are equally responsible for taking the required time to extinguish the behaviour & returning it to a balanced state. Balance begins with us. We can't teach balance if we don't know what it is.