Episode 29: “All of It Belongs” and Embracing our Humanity with Christie Catan

Marissa MartinoPaws & Reward Podcast

a man hugs his dog, helping to build resilience in dogs

In episode 29 of the Paws & Reward Podcast, Christie Catan and I discuss how dogs help us embrace our humanity and learn how to manage difficult emotions. They explore what it means to say “All of it Belongs” when life throws us curveballs, especially in training. 

When working with our dogs, feelings of frustration, impatience, or anger are normal. We tend to either push these feelings away or allow them to take over. How can we look at these feelings in a more productive way? How can we learn how to manage difficult emotions in a better way? Can we accept them and embrace the concept of belonging?

What does the phrase “All of it Belongs” mean?”

“All of it Belongs” is a phrase that asks us to pause when we’re feeling challenging emotions. This pause has the potential to create space and an opportunity to acknowledge the presenting challenge as a possible opportunity. 

It can provide grounding for those of us who seek perfection and forget that challenges are also a part of our learning process and life! It’s remembering that life isn’t just cherry-picked happy moments. Life encompasses all of it – even anxiety, frustration, and difficult moments. 

When we claim all of it as belonging, then we can allow all of it to exist in our dogs, ourselves, and others. We can learn how to manage difficult emotions more easily and with less discomfort. We don’t have to like all of it (our dog’s behavior, our behavior, and others’ behavior), but we can do that while still holding space and compassion for what is. 

Why is it important to learn how to manage difficult emotions?

As trainers and behavior consultants and dog owners, we look for a problem to fix. That problem usually makes us feel uncomfortable.

In order to have creative solutions to address the situation, we encourage listeners to acknowledge the challenge before moving to problem-solving. 

When we can learn how to manage difficult emotions with less discomfort, we give ourselves time and space to really think through a situation and come up with the best solution.

A woman bends down and hugs her dog while learning how to manage difficult emotions

How can I be more accepting of difficult feelings?

One technique Christie Catan uses is to feel wonder in response to anger. In her experience, when she notices her anger and responds to it with wonder instead of resistance, her anger softens. 

She moves through the emotion to get to the other side. Our relationship with our dog can be a safe space to start practicing this skill. When they raise strong emotions within us, we can pause, remind ourselves that all of it belongs, and move through those emotions. 

More Resources to Learn How to Manage Difficult Emotions

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