Walking the Dog

It's not always easy to manage your emotions so they don't rule you.  In my Atlanta counseling practice I sometimes use the example of walking a dog to illustrate an essential idea about emotional self-control.

We've all seen someone struggling to walk an unruly dog. When an untrained dog sees a squirrel or cat it naturally wants to chase after it.  In such circumstances a large dog can pull the human on the other end of the leash wherever its instincts lead.

This is the way some people are with their emotions. Any direction their feelings take them, that's where they're going to go whether it's the right path or not. It takes a lot of effort to discipline your emotions, but the results are well worth the effort, much like having the peaceful joy of walking a well-trained dog.

I have an interest in how humor changes across generations, so I have read lots of jokes from different eras.  I remember a joke from the early part of the 20th century in which a very rich woman instructed her butler to take her poodle "Fifi" for a walk. The refined butler tried to decline by saying, "Madame, Fifi and I hardly know each other", to which she replied, "Then it will be Fifi who shall take you for a walk."

When it comes to your relationship with your emotions, who's walking who?

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Bill Herring LCSW, CSAT is an Atlanta therapist for adults, whether individuals or couples.  He is also a nationally recognized expert on noncriminal problematic sexual behaviors, including porn and sex addiction.