When working with any new client, I’m interested in learning about the other beings who inhabit their lives. Partners, children, friends—but also pets. Pets are part of the family, right? We spend lots of money and time on them. Some people spend just as much as they do on their own children.
They also allow us to project feelings onto them. It’s an interesting experiment to allow yourself to become aware of how you’re feeling with your dog—what does that tug-of-war bring up in you? Maybe you have some anger that playing with Rover is letting you work through? Maybe something else?
A study came out not too long ago that spoke about how humans find an easier time empathizing with dogs than with other human adults. I got to weigh in about the “why” of this with the website I Love My Dog So Much. Would love to know your thoughts–do you find it easier to empathize with animals than with people?
All of this can lead to a bigger discussion about compassion for others and self-compassion. Where does your compassion go? To others who “deserve” it? To kids? To people you’ve never met?
Ready to set up an appointment? Click here!
Justin Lioi, LCSW is a men’s mental health and relationship expert based in Brooklyn, NY (and online throughout New York State and internationally.) He received his degree from New York University and has been working in family and men’s counseling for over 10 years. Justin is on the Board of the National Association of Social Workers and writes a weekly column for the Good Men Project called Unmasking Masculinity. He can be found on local and national podcasts talking about assertiveness, anger, self-compassion, all with the goal of becoming the man you want to be.