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Learn FromYour Pets and Get Healthier Too!

Learn FromYour Pets and Get Healthier Too!

    “A dog has a lot of friends because he wags his tail and not his tongue.” – Anonymous

    Even if they do not know it, pets can teach us a lot about life and happiness. No matter what kind of hair day we are having, how deflated we feel, or whether or not we said or did something stupid, they love us anyway. Nothing is going to keep them away from wanting to nuzzle up to you and lick your face – no matter what!

    For instance, you do not need to actually have a dog to appreciate the appeal of being greeted at the door with a wagging tail, eager to greet you like you are the most important person in the world.

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    • Pets do not judge you and find fault — they accept you as you are unconditionally.
    • Since they do not judge, they will not notice or remember what you did wrong and therefore will never remind you!
    • They don’t ask for much more than the basics — food, shelter and your company – they take what they can get!
    • They have mastered the art of radical acceptance and unconditional love.
    • They show appreciation and can give love without expecting much in return
    • They are living in the moment — they do not get hung up on what happened, what might have happened, and what might happen in the future.

    Learning from what pets can teach us will keep you focused on many key ingredientsfor success in relationships and in life: love, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, loyalty and a total focus on today.

    There is also considerable evidence that pets are actually good for your health. Medical issues ranging from high blood pressure, depression and even allergies have been shown to be alleviated by having pets. Yes — even allergies!

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    Despite the common notion that pets and people who are allergic do not jive, in actuality studies that shown that infants who grow up in a homes with furry friends are actually are less likely to be allergic to pets. Researcher James Gem, M.D. states that actually children growing up with furred animals have less incidence of eczema and stronger immune systems. Drs. Rita and Blair Justice of University of Texas medical center even compare petting a dog with eating chocolate, claiming both have been are helpful in releasing the “feel-good” chemicals like serotonin that and other brain chemicals that they measured while studying the effects of pets on the brain.

    Pets can even improve your work life. Having pets in the office have actually been shown to increase productivity as well as morale! I assume, of course, they need to be the well-behaved type!

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    And don’t forget (of course) that pets are a date magnet, and a wonderful social lubricant to meet friends and break into conversations with a cute focal point that already makes people smile!

    So next time you want a health or social boost, or are anchored down by regrets and misgivings of the past, reach for a pet and feel good!

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    My question to you: Would your life be different if you followed the lessons of acceptance, unconditional love and present-centeredness that pets can teach you? If so, how? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

    (Photo credit: Young Gorl Happy to Lay With Dog via Shutterstock)

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    Judy Belmont

    Mental health author, motivational speaker and psychotherapist

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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