Tag: Carl Safina

Inner Thinking: Of dogs and humans.

We are what we think about most.

Today’s post was inspired by something yesterday I read, not for the first time, over on The People Workshop site. (As an aside, I know that many regulars of this place are familiar with the history of my friendship with Jon.) On the page that explains more of Jon Lavin’s approach to his work with clients, he writes:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Thus said Albert Einstein (1879-1955).

Intuitively, it strikes one as correct. However, reflect for a few moments on how you think and very quickly it becomes clear that how you think is based on deep-seated experiences and the learnings that flow from those experiences.

As it is for all of us.

Just as relevantly, perhaps more so, is that how we behave is based on those same deep-seated experiences and subsequent learnings. This offers a clue as to why bringing about lasting, behavioural change can often feel like pushing water uphill!

That prompted me to look up a previous time when I had written a post about feelings. It was last December when in a post called Feelings – Of Both Humans and Animals, I wrote this:

There couldn’t have been a better answer to that ponder than a recent video that was presented by TED Talks. It was a talk by Carl Safina about what is going on inside the brains of animals: What are animals thinking and feeling? Or in the fuller words of that TED Talk page:

What’s going on inside the brains of animals? Can we know what, or if, they’re thinking and feeling? Carl Safina thinks we can. Using discoveries and anecdotes that span ecology, biology and behavioral science, he weaves together stories of whales, wolves, elephants and albatrosses to argue that just as we think, feel, use tools and express emotions, so too do the other creatures – and minds – that share the Earth with us.

So back to what inspired today’s post. It was the challenge of really knowing why we behave the way we do, both humans and dogs. With dogs, however, we accept they cannot speak to us clearly. Or as Esme put it in a recent reply to an update on Hazel: “Well you’re getting there, half the battle is diagnosis with dogs because they can’t actually tell us how they feel.” (My emphasis.)

Back to humans. When Jon wrote on his site, “…. how you think  …… is based on deep-seated experiences ….”, what I heard is that for us humans there are many times when we cannot actually tell ourselves what we are feeling. That is why we need the counselling of someone who has the professional training and experience to expose those deep emotional and psychological drivers within us; those drivers that are normally out of sight from us.

In my own case, how my father’s death was managed by my mother back in December, 1956 left an emotional wound that was totally out of sight from my conscious mind for 50 years.  The emotional crisis that I went through back then was discovered by Jon to have its roots back in December, 1956. By a massive stroke of fortune Jon gave me the insight into that mental place of old and a year later I met Jean down in Mexico.

In other words, to return to Albert Einstein:

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

The challenge is having sufficient self-awareness to know when an aspect of our behaviour requires the support of the Jon Lavins of this world.

So what would we require from a counsellor, from a therapist, who was working with us to uncover those hidden aspects? In other words, in terms of assessing that therapist what’s the difference that would make the difference?

Naturally, I don’t have the skills to answer that question in any direct, professional manner. But if I look down at our dogs then a form of answer does ‘speak’ to me. Dogs are creatures of integrity, openness and trust. They relate to us humans and other known dogs around them through friendship and love; frequently unconditional love.

A therapist who embraces those values; nay, lives those values, would display that very quickly after meeting with the ‘client’. Any person seeing that in a therapist would be seeing the difference that makes the difference.

Good people, I’m not asking any of you who read this to divulge any personal stuff but, nonetheless, I would love to hear your thoughts on what I have written today!

 

Feelings – of both humans and animals.

Five years ago Jean and I were married!

So if we are discussing feelings, as we are today, there is no better place to start than by me expressing my feelings of joy and love that I feel for, and still receive from, my gorgeous Jean. I know five years at our stage of life is far fewer than for many married couples but, nevertheless, they have been beautiful years and I wish for many more.

wedding
Diane Jackson, Bridesmaid, Jean and me, my mother and Dan Gomez, Best Man. November 20th, 2010

I had been pondering these last few days as to what I would write for today. For I wanted to celebrate our anniversary yet wanted a broader theme; so to speak.

There couldn’t have been a better answer to that ponder than a recent video that was presented by TED Talks. It was a talk by Carl Safina about what is going on inside the brains of animals: What are animals thinking and feeling? Or in the fuller words of that TED Talk page:

What’s going on inside the brains of animals? Can we know what, or if, they’re thinking and feeling? Carl Safina thinks we can. Using discoveries and anecdotes that span ecology, biology and behavioral science, he weaves together stories of whales, wolves, elephants and albatrosses to argue that just as we think, feel, use tools and express emotions, so too do the other creatures – and minds – that share the Earth with us.

Safina is very qualified to speak on the subject as his bio on that TED Talk page reveals. However, I couldn’t find a YouTube link for that TED Talk but could find two videos that are very good alternatives.

The first is a short video of Safina promoting his book Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel.

The second is a much longer video that is Safina’s presentation at the recent Ransom A. Myers Lecture. If you can spare the time, then do watch it. You will not be disappointed.

Published on Oct 9, 2015
8th Annual Ransom A. Myers Lecture in Science and Society. Thursday, October 1st 2015.

Title: Beyond Words: What animals think and feel
Presented by: Dr. Carl Safina, Marine Ecologist/Author, The Safina Centre

Finally, and please forgive my indulgences, I want to close today’s post with some photographs that for me have “feelings” stamped all over them!

Jeannie, Hazel and cat feeling trust for each other.
Jeannie, Hazel and cat feeling trust for each other.

oooo

One of our local deer trusting Jeannie.
One of our local wild deer trusting Jeannie.

oooo

Oliver and Pedy adoring each other.
Oliver and Pedy adoring each other.

oooo

Last but not least! Photograph taken two days ago by yours truly reflecting my feelings of wonder at being alive in this world!
Last but not least! A photograph taken two days ago by yours truly reflecting my feelings of wonder at being alive in this world!

Onwards and upwards!