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How You Should Communicate with Cat-People and Dog-People

How You Should Communicate with Cat-People and Dog-People

A few weeks ago my partner and I were having one of those deep, tough discussions between two very different personalities who were trying to harmonize and understand each other as our lives were changing.

As we talked, the subject of our pets came up: How have they been faring as our lives have been evolving?

“The cats are fine.” I said. “It’s Bowser I’m worried about. It’s the difference between cats and dogs.”

And thus the inspiration for this article . . .

Are you a cat-person or dog-person?

Here are some characteristics of cats and dogs and the people who love them, followed by suggestions of how to make it all work!

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Cats

Cats are independent and low-maintenance. They don’t need to be taken out. All you need to do is keep up with the litterbox, feed them, and clip their nails when they start getting sharp. Cats are touch-and-go, sometimes cozying up to you and sometimes nowhere to be found.

They are sometimes curious about new people, sometimes indifferent, and they don’t ask for attention – they take it! They’ll sit on you, nuzzle you, walk across you, and love on you (or your laptop) – unless they are busy doing something else, of course.

If they haven’t seen you for a long while, they may come and greet you, but they don’t dwell on it. They’re cats.

Cats can be relatively persnickety about cleanliness – but if they’re upset about something, they’ll let you know with an unpleasant mess outside their box.

Cats do things their own way. They may come and sit on your lap — but don’t try to pick them up and put them there yourself — they are not in the mood just now. And if you get up from your chair, expect it to be the cat’s seat when you get back. Cats are easily bored but also easily entertained if you give them access to a window or a box.

They are great hunters but play around with their prey. Cats are also very sensitive and keenly intuitive. When I’m agitated, my cats get agitated and fight each other. When I’m depressed, they tend to come and cuddle. They seem to see and understand things beyond our human capabilities – but the joke is that they may not care enough to do anything about it.

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Are you a Cat-Person?

Cats work for me because they are independent and low-maintenance. As long as a person can stand the litterbox, cats are great.

I am not a homebody and like to get out often. I got two cats so that they can keep each other company and don’t need me around.

I like that I can stay out late or leave town for a bit, and the cats will still be calm and content when I return (as long as someone pops in once or twice to clean the litterbox and top off the food and water).

So then one day, I, the cat-person, got a dog . . .

Dogs

I discovered dogs can be dependent and high-maintenance.  I was dismayed to discover that there is a “puppy phase” – there is nothing like that for cats – and that’s when I began to refer to our pup as “your dog” and had nightmares that he would never ever grow up. (Thankfully he eventually did.)

Dogs need to be taken out many times a day. They also need to be fed — and once they get a taste of human food — they will hover around the kitchen and sniff around at your feet, in case some tasty morsel should fall.

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Dogs are loyal and loving and feel a need to be around you and know where you are at all times. My dog will follow me up and down the stairs and will bark at me frantically if I walk out the front door and get the mail without him.

Dogs are protectors, barking at anyone who comes within yards of the house and may go absolutely crazy if someone actually approaches the door — until they know for sure that you’ve accepted this person. Dogs may feel abandoned when you leave the house and are ecstatic when you return.

Dogs smell until you bathe them. And then they are quick to get dirty again. But they are incredibly loyal and loving.

They want to please you and will do whatever they can to get in your good graces. They can take a great amount of loving from kids and just want to play with you and love you – always.

If they could, they would sit on your lap — and some actually do, even though they shouldn’t. Dogs may not be as intuitive as cats, but they’re pretty smart, and some have been known to save lives.

Are you a Dog-Person?

Dog-people are content to be home. They like people, but they don’t need to be out and about, and they don’t understand why you would want to be away so much – there’s plenty to do in the house!

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Dog-people are caring, empathetic, and loyal. And like dogs, they just want to be around you, even if you’re both doing your own thing, not interacting with each other.

So, how do you keep from fighting like cats and dogs?

It’s easier than you might think!

If you’re living a cat-person, be sure to give your partner some space. The cat-person will want to go out and explore – but will want to cozy up to you, too.

Make sure to plan some exciting things to do together and be prepared for the occasional hijinks and drama. Be sure to give your cat-person attention . . . and be patient.

If you’re living with a dog-person, schedule some regular time together (date night!), and stay in communication about your outside activities as much as possible.

Be sure to show your appreciation for your partner’s loyalty, give positive feedback . . . and be patient!

Featured photo credit: Victor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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