Starlight Pet Talk

Emotional Intelligence for Pet Parents: Mastering Your Emotions for a Better Relationship with Your Pet

June 11, 2024 Amy Castro, MA, CSP Season 2 Episode 22
Emotional Intelligence for Pet Parents: Mastering Your Emotions for a Better Relationship with Your Pet
Starlight Pet Talk
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Starlight Pet Talk
Emotional Intelligence for Pet Parents: Mastering Your Emotions for a Better Relationship with Your Pet
Jun 11, 2024 Season 2 Episode 22
Amy Castro, MA, CSP

In this episode, host Amy Castro dives deep into the world of emotional intelligence and its profound impact on our interactions with pets. Joined by guest Amy Budd, an expert in emotional intelligence and HeartMath techniques, they discuss the critical role of awareness and regulating our own emotions before expecting our pets to regulate theirs. The conversation reveals how heart math techniques, like heart-focused breathing, can help manage emotions, enhance the bond with pets, and positively impact behavior. Discover the importance of being present, reframing negative thoughts, and fostering a mutual understanding as a pet parent.

Key Takeaways:

  • Managing our emotions enhances interactions with pets.
  • Discover heart-focused breathing and other strategies to strengthen your bond with pets.
  • Understand the importance of reciprocity in pet ownership.
  • See how emotional regulation positively impacts your pet's behavior.

Why Listen: This episode is a must-listen for pet parents who want to build stronger, more empathetic relationships with their pets. By mastering emotional intelligence, you can create a more harmonious environment for yourself and your pets. Tune in to learn actionable tips and techniques to transform your pet parenting journey.

To learn more about this subject or to work with Amy Budd, visit her website at: https://www.wholeheartranch.com/

Chapters

00:00
Introduction to Emotional Intelligence and Pet Relationships

05:36
The Impact of Emotional Expression on Pets

09:21
Heart Math: The Role of the Heart in Emotional Regulation

13:04
Heart Rate Variability and Emotional Intelligence

23:33
Taking Responsibility for Our Emotions in Pet Interactions

27:13
The Impact of Emotional State on Pet Interactions

29:17
Creating Space for Emotional Ease in the Morning

30:34
Rewiring Synapses through Emotional Regulation

31:28
Recognizing Triggers and Changing Internal Dialogue

32:43
Changing Perspectives to Shift Emotional Responses

33:13
The Lasting Effects of Emotional Upsetness

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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, host Amy Castro dives deep into the world of emotional intelligence and its profound impact on our interactions with pets. Joined by guest Amy Budd, an expert in emotional intelligence and HeartMath techniques, they discuss the critical role of awareness and regulating our own emotions before expecting our pets to regulate theirs. The conversation reveals how heart math techniques, like heart-focused breathing, can help manage emotions, enhance the bond with pets, and positively impact behavior. Discover the importance of being present, reframing negative thoughts, and fostering a mutual understanding as a pet parent.

Key Takeaways:

  • Managing our emotions enhances interactions with pets.
  • Discover heart-focused breathing and other strategies to strengthen your bond with pets.
  • Understand the importance of reciprocity in pet ownership.
  • See how emotional regulation positively impacts your pet's behavior.

Why Listen: This episode is a must-listen for pet parents who want to build stronger, more empathetic relationships with their pets. By mastering emotional intelligence, you can create a more harmonious environment for yourself and your pets. Tune in to learn actionable tips and techniques to transform your pet parenting journey.

To learn more about this subject or to work with Amy Budd, visit her website at: https://www.wholeheartranch.com/

Chapters

00:00
Introduction to Emotional Intelligence and Pet Relationships

05:36
The Impact of Emotional Expression on Pets

09:21
Heart Math: The Role of the Heart in Emotional Regulation

13:04
Heart Rate Variability and Emotional Intelligence

23:33
Taking Responsibility for Our Emotions in Pet Interactions

27:13
The Impact of Emotional State on Pet Interactions

29:17
Creating Space for Emotional Ease in the Morning

30:34
Rewiring Synapses through Emotional Regulation

31:28
Recognizing Triggers and Changing Internal Dialogue

32:43
Changing Perspectives to Shift Emotional Responses

33:13
The Lasting Effects of Emotional Upsetness

Send us a Text Message.

Support the Show.

Support the show: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/starlightpettalk

LISTEN & FOLLOW!
▷ Official Site: https://www.starlighpettalk.com

▶ Facebook: / starlightoutreachandrescue

▶ YouTube: -https://bit.ly/starlightsubscribe

▶ TikTok: / starlightou...

Amy Castro (00:00.974)
If you've ever gotten excited and started shouting at a football game or maybe had a good cry over your favorite sad movie and you noticed your pet's reaction, you may have wondered how much your emotions influence your pets. On today's Starlight Pet Talk, we delve into emotional intelligence and its significant role in your interactions with your beloved pets. Discover the profound effects your emotional awareness and emotional management can have on deepening your bond and enriching your mutual understanding.

Don't miss out on gaining insights into connecting with your pets on a deeper emotional level. Stay tuned. You're listening to Starlight Pet Talk, a podcast for pet parents who want the best pet care advice from cat experts, dog trainers, veterinarians, and other top pet professionals who will help you live your very best life with your pets.

Amy Castro (00:56.302)
Welcome to Starlight Pet Talk. I'm your host, Amy Castro. And today I am thrilled to invite Amy Budd. She is a heart math resilience advantage trainer and equine facilitated coach who also brings multiple certifications, including disc motivators and emotional intelligence to her unique approach to coaching. With a profound passion for healing hearts and evolving souls, Amy teaches people how to maintain their emotional integrity, basically with the poise of a good steady horse.

After more than two decades in the business sector, Amy pivoted to combine her corporate acumen with her love for horses, crafting a distinctive coaching style that helps individuals and teams discover their essential selves, become heart -centered, and emulate the cooperative spirit of a herd of horses. So Amy, welcome to the show.

Thanks, Amy. I'm super excited to be here. And it's so funny to have the Amys working together today. I know. It's Amy power. Amy squared. Here we go. Excited to be your guest. For sure. I had told Amy when we first spoke that she's kind of living my dream. Although I feel like I'm living sort of my dream, but I haven't taken it to that next level. But the work that she's doing on her property with her horses and then kind of combining that professional element of coaching and...

helping people lead and helping people be better in their teams. But doing that with the horses, I think is pretty amazing. So we were trying to figure out, well, how can we collaborate on this podcast? Because this is a pet podcast. It's not the leadership podcast that I probably should start. And I never really even thought about it from the standpoint of how much our emotions and applying some of the emotional intelligence techniques that we use in the corporate world can really...

be applied to our relationships with our pets. I'm not sure why I wasn't clever enough to figure that out, but she brought that up and I was like, yes, I'm all over that. So first of all, for people who aren't familiar with emotional intelligence, can you just give us a brief idea of what that is and how it might apply to animals specifically? Sure, absolutely. And so the short version of emotional intelligence really revolves around kind of four different quadrants, if you will.

Amy Castro (03:08.27)
And so when I do an assessment with somebody, everybody is scored with a self -awareness score, a self -regulation score, a social awareness, and a social regulation. So again, how well can you recognize your own emotional state? How well can you regulate it? But then again, and again, for the corporate setting, right? How well do you read the room? And can you impact the room with your own emotional prowess?

And of course, for me, that translates directly to the pet world. And I guess for your audience, just for their benefit, I'm not a newbie to cats and dogs. I've had over 20 years in the pet food industry. So I had my own small pet food company where I did raw, frozen, cooked, and dehydrated foods for dogs and cats. I have worked in a veterinary clinic where I don't know how many years and fostered. So we have a lot in common. We do have a lot in common.

You know, being able to tap into that wisdom of ourselves directly impacts how we interact with our animals. And for anybody that's doing, you know, any rescue work, whatever, really learning how to first regulate yourself before expecting that animal to regulate or co -regulate is just a huge piece of the puzzle.

Yeah, it's interesting because I think about my own interactions. I think I'm pretty aware, and I think I'm really great at regulating my emotion in public, but at home. I remember my husband used to pull his glasses down and he'd look over the top of them and he'd say, I bet you don't teach that in your workshops. You know, because I'd say something inappropriate or ugly or have a temper tantrum or whatever it is. But I think it is the same with pets. And I find that especially,

lately and what's really tapped into my mind lately is we run an animal rescue so we're under a lot of pressure. I have a lot of animals in my house. They don't always get along. They don't behave. And it's like on top of that, the pool is green and the fence guy still hasn't showed up to put the gate back on the front gate and the dog building is still not done. And so it's like all this pressure and stuff and it's just easy to let it out. And...

Amy Castro (05:16.686)
I know you haven't heard the teaser yet, but one of the things I said in the teaser was, you know, you get excited at a football game and you start screaming and hollering and the reaction on your pets, you know, faces, or they run from the room. And it's like, do we really realize how much of that, even if it's not directed towards them, how much our emotional expression or lack of expression, you know, I think about people on the other end of the spectrum who might be, you know, holding things in or people that are dealing with extreme anxiety and they may not be screaming and yelling about it.

that to me is the value and the beauty of heart math. And that's what heart math is all about. And so most people I did not understand. So when I made my pivot, I went through a pretty intensive two year program to do the horse work. And I was exposed to heart math. And it just resonated so deeply with me, I wanted to learn more. We are conditioned as a society that everything is in our brain.

that, that, and we have very busy brains and that's part of the problem. Most everybody, and especially after COVID, we still aren't quite back to whatever normal was. We've not disconnected well from, from all that busyness in our brain and we don't know how to quiet the brain. And so animals, one of the beautiful gifts that animals have and share with us is simplicity. You know, they don't have that complex brain. And so they are so fully present in the moment and experiencing.

the moment where you and I, because of the complexity of our brain, have a tendency to either live in the past or we're worried about the future. And so just like you said, well, the barn's not built and the fence guy's not here and the pond is green and my God, the dogs are barking and the cats are meowing. Somebody just peed outside the litter box. I mean, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. We turn into the hamster wheel. So what happens as far as our human physiology, though, we are almost like your cell phone with every single heartbeat.

we are emitting an electromagnetic impulse. So your heart is a muscle and it generates an electromagnetic current with every single heartbeat. So with every heartbeat, you are quite literally broadcasting information, whether you're aware of it or not. The information you're broadcasting is exactly that, your emotional state. So just as you said, people that maybe have a low level anxiety,

Amy Castro (07:40.246)
even a low level fear running under the radar that they may not again have that good self -awareness about, or maybe they do, the animals pick up on that. That's what the animals are sensing. So with horses, because you have a herd mentality, you know, their survival depends on being able to quite literally read the room and react very quickly. Dogs, on the other hand, have a pack mentality. There is a hierarchy.

It is survival of the fittest. Humans run in a very similar mindset. So imagine you have a terrified dog or you have a dog that is say having a behavioral issue, right? So having done foster, you already know what I'm speaking to. Because most of the time those dogs end up with emotional issues. Whether it's abandonment, you know, whatever the package that that comes in.

And so if you also are having this low level emotional thing running under the radar that you're broadcasting with every heartbeat, again, animals pick up on that. And so now you've got a dog or a cat or a horse or whatever is in your household that can't help but question and wonder, you know, should I be afraid? You're afraid. You're anxious. Should I be anxious? What are we afraid of?

And so really having that ability to learn to self -regulate so that you can then co -regulate is a gift. And so we'll practice that today. Just for people who aren't familiar with heart math, what exactly is that? Yeah, so heart math was developed almost over 30 years ago by truly kind of a group of nerdy scientists that wanted to ask some bigger questions about human physiology and research wasn't being done.

And so in the late, believe it or not, 1800s, there was a discovery made that there is more information flowing from the heart to the brain than the other way around. Most people believe that the brain is the center of all information, all activity, how we think, how we feel, and that is so not the case. Everything is actually originates in the heart. The heart sends the impulse to the brain on basically how you should feel, what you should think.

Amy Castro (10:00.27)
So the heart originates everything. So heart math came about as basically a result, again, of this group of scientists wanting to ask physiological questions. But in doing that research, what they found was with the breathing techniques and some of the other more advanced techniques, we can teach people how to make a conscious choice on how to feel. So that you, again, we have so much more power within us than we've been led to believe.

And so by learning how, and it's widely, widely used by first responders. A lot of the first responder community uses that just because again, if a police officer goes out on a call, right, they're gonna have a huge adrenaline surge. They can't help it. Doesn't mean they're gonna be in necessarily like fight or flight mode, but that's just the response of our physiology is to have the adrenaline surge. If we don't learn how to stop that and control it and do a reset, the body will just continue to dump.

cortisol. The same response physiologically is happening for people who are running a low level anxiety, a low level depression, your body is just continuing that negative output of chemicals. So learning to pause, shift, do what we'll do it today, the heart focused breathing, and I will also offer the quick coherence technique and learn to make that shift in your physiology.

then you begin to release your body's good chemicals, DHEA, which is Mother Nature's basically antidepressant. And we have it on board. We just need to learn how to turn it on. Again, once you learn how to control and manage your own physiology, you also then begin to operate at your premium. So things that were triggers for you no longer are as triggering. You have a much, much greater self -awareness. You also have a much greater intuition.

We just are operating in a much higher level than allowing some of those negative depleting emotions to run your life. Right. What it makes me think about is, you know, I think back to my horse days, my horse used to be terrified of everything. A garbage bag blowing, a garbage bag doing nothing other than sitting at the driveway with a bunch of leaves in it, a bus coming down the street. But it got to the point where I began to anticipate the reaction that I knew was coming.

Amy Castro (12:24.174)
And so I know I was triggering it because other people would get on the same horse and not have that fear and anxiety because it hadn't happened to them 15 times. And I see this a lot in rescue with people that are working with dogs and cats that kind of come into a situation fearful of certain types of dogs or people that are afraid of cats. They almost trigger.

the hissing and the, or a swat or something like that. But also with people and probably the ones I feel the most bad for the ones where the dog does have a behavior issue like reactivity or something like that. And so once they know it's quote unquote, know it's going to happen, then they make it happen. And it's, it's, and they don't even have to open their mouths. It's not like they said a thing, but. Well, but it's that, it's what I just said. It's that heartbeat, right? Cause you are literally with every single heartbeat. You are broadcasting information.

Right, you had mentioned previously something about an actual machine. Is it the math because it's measuring your heart beats per minute? There is a device, it's called the Interbalance Trainer and it clips to your ear. You're looking at kind of two different things. So your heart has a rate, right? How fast it beats, 60 beats per minute, 70 beats per minute, whatever that is. What the regulation tool is really about is the space between the beats and what's called your heart rate variability. And so if you looked at the data,

right? If you were from a medical perspective, you're like, my gosh, that person needs to go to the hospital, you know, they're in a fib or whatever. But a healthy heart does not beat regularly. A healthy heart actually has a fairly high degree of what's called variability. So the space between the beat. And when you learn how to regulate your breathing, and again, I can I'm doing heart focused breathing right now. And you would never know that.

It's so they're meant to be done kind of in the moment on the fly. Again, that's why it's so widely used by the first responder community. Our tier one military uses these techniques because they're in a lot of close proximity with each other. So again, it's learning that self -regulation piece of the puzzle emotionally, which changes your physiology so that you are operating at a higher level. So if your heart is beating erratically, it's almost like if you were driving your

Amy Castro (14:39.374)
with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake. It's a really rough ride. Whereas if you can learn to regulate, you create a smoothness to that heart rate variability. And that's what we're looking for. So the tie to emotional intelligence and the elements of awareness and regulation, is it kind of just a parallel concept that overlaps in some ways? Yes.

Absolutely. Yes. And I utilize both. So there's ways to measure emotional intelligence, right? But most people don't know how to really self -regulate well. So kind of the first step is that self -awareness. And again, as a society, we don't talk about emotions. We are taught to stuff emotions. You know, even on your worst day, if I walked up and said, hey, Amy, how's it going today? You're going to say, it's great. How are you? Even if you're not, that's what we're socially conditioned to do.

even if you're on the verge of homicide. Right. Which I feel like I am on a regular basis. Well, but I think we're seeing a lot of that right now, right? Everybody is at these, operating at their extremes. You know, we see it on the news. We see it with, you know, the insanity with Ukraine, the insanity with Gaza and Israel right now. I mean, it's like we're, everyone's almost being pushed to these extreme emotional states and we don't know how to just turn the volume down.

And so heart math is again, really learning about first how to stop and plug energy leaks. Again, when I teach this, we look at kind of what are called your domains of resilience. And basically there's four. So you have an emotional domain, a mental domain, a spiritual domain, physical domain. So we have those four domains. And so I always ask people, where do you think you waste the most energy? And most people want to answer me about the mental domain. And it's actually the emotional domain.

So we feel like worry is in our brain, but worry is actually taxing our body. yeah, for sure. Same with depression, anxiety. So yes, it makes our brain busy, but the real kind of drain for us is through that emotional quadrant. So again, if I can teach people how to change that emotional capacity and stop those energy drains, then you also have a higher...

Amy Castro (17:00.398)
capacity to function, it brings all of your your critical thinking skills, your cortical, your higher cortical functioning online. So I asked people the question, have you ever had an argument and this goes right directly to working with kind of our rescue dogs or rescue cats or even just when we've had a really bad day, right? Our fuse is usually short. And it doesn't take much to set us off. I mean, and I've done it, right? The dog will, you know, take off running.

there is no come left in his vocabulary and he is still running. Right. And on a perfect day, I would like, okay, just take a breath. Calm yourself down. Screaming at the dog isn't the right answer. Right. That's my reaction. Well, who am I? You know, dog doesn't care. He's still running and he's off and you know, doing his thing. But I just exhausted myself because I got pissed. I got frustrated.

I zapped myself of a lot of emotional energy. And it also took my brain offline because that's our old fight or flight mechanism. That's our survival mechanism. So your brain goes offline so that the blood can go to the extremities and you can run from the saber tooth tiger. Well, that no longer serves us. I have much greater capacity mentally, physically, emotionally, and in every way. If I can learn to slow myself down, pause.

and then make a decision. And in that example that you gave where you've got the dog is, you know, a hundred yards away and you know, unless you're yelling really loud, they're probably not picking up on that emotion like they might be if they were at your side. So in that instance, maybe it's more of an impact on you, but absolutely. Where I'm going with this is how does our inability to recognize and regulate where our emotions are coming from and then how do we act on them?

in a productive way, how does that impact our pets? Like if we were in, because the first thing I thought about was just something, sometimes again, when you're really on edge, something that the dog does all the time, but because you're already pissed off, it puts you over the edge. Like going to the water bowl and drinking and walking away with all the water pouring out of their mouth. It's like, is that some kind of a shock that that happened? Because it happens every day. And that's why you have that little mat there. And that's why there's a towel on the floor. But today it's like,

Amy Castro (19:21.71)
you're thinking very angry thoughts about how stupid the dog is and like, why can't he just stay over the bowl and drool? It's like, and it's dumb when you're thinking it, or even if you're saying, why can't you stay over by your bowl? Really? You think he's gonna sit there and reason with you over that? It's like, he's just being a dog. He's just being a dog, but he obviously also though is picking up on that emotional energy and intent, right? That is coming now with every single heartbeat that you're broadcasting. Right.

And he's wondering, what the heck did I do wrong? Cause I do this 50 times a day. Exactly. I drink water like this every day. Why is today different? Yeah. So I think about all the rescue dogs, you know, that I've seen same thing, you know, just like you were talking about your horse, right? Where they're anticipating and you see the dog cower when somebody raises their voice. What a gift we could give back to them because I think so often people adopt animals or we take animals in our home.

expecting to receive from them and not being as aware of what we need to give to them and partner with them. Yeah. Well, and that's, that's a big issue, I think, in rescue overall is, and I've noticing it more and more, especially as people, you know, we've had a couple of situations recently at the rescue where people have basically they've been turned down for adoption. And I try to have a,

rational conversation, you know, and one in particular example, the person wanted to adopt a three legged cat and a semi feral cat. Together? Together. Okay. Which all, and they, they cohabitated. So, you know, but she had two small children lived in a relatively small home. And I'm thinking to myself, okay, you're a mom of two children under the age of six and you want to bring these pets.

you know, one that's gonna swat in his, the other one that can't get away with two little children. You can't, and as much as it's, well, they're good with animals and, you know, I watch them, you can't watch them 24 seven. You're gonna be in there putting the groceries away and your kid's gonna be, you know, laying on the three -legged cat who can't get away or getting his face scratched by the cat who swats, cause he cornered it and wants to try to pick it up. And so - And then it's the cat's fault.

Amy Castro (21:39.374)
and then it's the cat's fault. And so my point of telling that story is that sometimes, you know, I feel like I'm doing what's in your best interest, even though you don't want me to, because this person was pissed off and just kept insisting that they were gonna be the perfect home for these cats. And it's like, all I could say was, you know what, maybe you're right, but I can't live with that decision. So it's gonna have to be a no. It's about them. It's about the person. I want them.

I wanna be the one that said I saved the three -legged cat kind of thing. And it's like, it's not about you, it's about trying to find the best fit for both of you. Exactly, it's that mutuality. And I think, like you say, a lot of times, and I know, you know, during COVID especially, people were running like crazy to get animals and adopt and, you know, and the shelters were empty. And now sadly, everybody's back to work, the shelters are full again. A lot of those animals got turned back. And it's just like.

You know, yeah, this is a commitment. A lifelong commitment, you know, you're their guardian. You know, you have a responsibility to that soul to take care of them. So yeah, I do get, with you, I get a little bit frustrated, I guess, as well. Sometimes it's just a possession. It's not, you know. Yeah, it's all about me and what I get from it and what it's gonna do for me, not that it's the best life for the animal.

Yeah, that's not how it works. There's gotta be some reciprocity. Definitely. So I know you wanna share some technique information, but before we do, I wanna give people some motivation to actually really think about this and really put these practices into play. So I can see what the benefits for, you talked about physical benefits, you talked about rationality and just being able to think through things better, but what are the benefits to our pets if we can get our emotions under control? Not that we can't have them.

but the awareness and the response that we use when we're feeling those emotions. Yeah, so I think there's two prongs to that for me. One is, first of all, again, the self -awareness piece, but also just owning it, right? So because I still have horses, I ride regularly. I chose to take on a different level of responsibility with my horse, especially because I used to go to him on a bad day and expect to, you know, because I would feel better after I would go ride or I'd go.

Amy Castro (23:59.246)
you know, hang out with the whores, right? And I thought, wow, that is again, like you just said, it's like, what do I get out of it? That was all about me. And so now when I go, if I've had a bad day or if I know I'm not quite 100%, right, to be with him, I'll just look at him and I'll say, Hey, Andy, I'm having a really crappy day. This has absolutely nothing to do with you. This is all mine. And I can watch my horse literally sigh of relief.

and he'll drop his head and relax. And so I think, again, it's that, and not that, you know, obviously I'm not perfect, I'm human. I've noticed a huge difference in my own animals with just taking that responsibility. Once I verbalize it and I'm obviously hyper aware of it, then I just take a minute and I'm like, okay, you know, what can I do differently? How can I show up differently for my cats, for my dog, for my horses? Yeah.

So it's the impact of not spreading my pew, the negative elements onto everybody else. And so that's the gift. And having them, yeah, and just acknowledging, right? And just saying, even if it's to the dog, I'll just say, hey, shh, I'm pissed off right now. This isn't yours, this is mine. And I don't know, obviously there is something they pick up with our intent with verbalizing that.

So try that next time, right? On the day you know you're frazzled and you've got the slobbery water bowl. I do a lot of apologizing. Well, and so maybe instead of instead of the apology, right, which I mean, I think there is still value in that. But maybe instead of the apology, just prepave and just say, hey, household, you know, because you have a household full, right? I'm having a bad day. This has nothing to do with you guys. This is mine. And I'll take it. Yeah.

And so I think once we let go of that expectation of having them take that burden from us, everything changes. You know, and I guess I look at it just like with a human conversation, every interaction we have is an opportunity for a conversation. What kind of conversation do you want to have? Right. Do you want to have a productive conversation or do you want to have an argument? Right.

Amy Castro (26:17.614)
Well, it was interesting. I thought you were going to say something along the lines when you were talking about having a bad day and going to the horse. Cause I feel like sometimes my better option at that moment in time is to, I like to go hide in my bedroom. I hide in my, I had in what I call my coffee corner in my bedroom. Sometimes it's just, you know, it's just, I need to have that moment. And I've been like that since, you know, my daughter was little, we had a rule, like literally when I walk in the door, especially when I was working, you know, long hours on this.

contract, it's like, I've been running my mouth and listening to people ask me questions and question me all day long and I don't want to have another conversation for 30 minutes after I walk in the door. So there was kind of this little rule of, I just need 30 minutes to go back, take off my business clothes, wash my face, take a breath, and then I can come out and hear all about your day or whatever you want to share, but I can't.

pick you up in the car and hear about it the minute the door closes or the minute I open the door, mom, blah, blah, blah, blah, you know, and just, I just can't take it. And so - Well, but right there, that is a massive level of awareness. And you set a very clear boundary, which is so healthy, right? Most people don't know how to do that. Right. And I think we can do that with our pets too. You know, there's - Absolutely. I've noticed that there are certain things where there's like a certain level of, I don't -

generally let my pets sleep in my bedroom with me for a lot of reasons. So when I come out, they all seem like super excited to see me. I don't know why I'm still the same lady, but, or if I've been hiding in my coffee corner and I just managed to stay back there for eight hours because I was doing something on the computer and I come out, it's like coming in the front door after work. And it's like, sometimes I just, instead of trying to tell them stop, stop, stop, cause they're all jumping. They're all scratching, whatever they're doing out of control. I just,

try to say nothing, take a deep breath and just keep walking. It's like, you know, and my intellectual mind says, well, that's kind of mean, they're so excited, you know, you should be giving them attention. But I'm also, if I do that, number one, I'm not really feeling it. And I'm kind of just stirring up the already excited level to another level, if I pretend and get down there like, hi guys. So it's just easier for me to just take that walk through the gauntlet, literally, and.

Amy Castro (28:36.302)
go get that drink of water or whatever it was I was going for. And then, you know, I've had my breath and it's like, okay, I can do one at a time. Like I'll pet you, I'll pet you, but I can't take the mob at the face like the, you know, Beatles getting mobbed in the sixties. How much can you handle like that? Right? So one of the techniques we do is called attitude breathing. And so if you already are waking up with that attitude or I don't say red necessarily, but.

It doesn't sound like it's a joyful experience every time or that you don't want to go down that rabbit hole of having to pet everybody and start the morning chaos. Imagine yourself just being full of ease as you walk through the gauntlet in the morning. That's what I was going to ask is that, you know, as I'm walking through the gauntlet.

or is it in anticipation? Because there are some mornings where everything just starts so abruptly and then it's like, everybody needs this and then I've got to go to horses or chickens or whatever. There's a lot that has to happen in the morning. But I've also sort of gotten this mindset lately, like, does it really have to happen at 6 .15 or can I hide out here and have my cup of coffee first and brush my teeth and throw some water on my face first?

And so I try to be really quiet and kind of stay back there and not - You hide. I hide, yeah. I basically hide in my bedroom. And I literally have, I mean, I've got a coffee pot in my bedroom and I have a little refrigerator that's full of waters because it's like, you know, that's the thing where, you know, you wake up in the middle of the night, you want a water and you just don't want to trigger the chaos because I've got six dogs.

out in the living room that suddenly at 2 a will need to go to the bathroom when they really don't. And so - Right, but they heard you and they're like, shoes up. Yeah, so I try to get up and be really quiet and I'll go over. Like I literally the other day, I got one of the little cans of water out of my fridge. I went back into my closet so that I could and open it because I thought somebody's gonna hear that. And if it's not the dogs, it's gonna be the cats. And then they, you know, they're pawed at the door.

Amy Castro (30:33.102)
Meow, meow, meow, meow. I'm like, my gosh, can I just have peace in this house? So as humans, and that's our physiology, right? Once you start that downward cascade, unless you know how to stop it, you're gonna keep going down the cascade. It's very difficult to sometimes dig out of that hole, so to speak. And again, we're socially conditioned to just take a pill and everything's okay. I've had that thought as well. You know, and it's a lot of work.

You know, I don't wanna say heart math is a lot of work, but you know, it's interrupting old behavioral patterns. The cool thing about it, the thing I guess I love the most is that as you practice and really learn to navigate, making that conscious choice to choose a different emotional state, you are also quite literally rewiring your own synapses to the brain. You are rewiring everything. That's powerful. That's - Yes.

To me, again, if you wanna ask like the really big questions about how do we change the world, right? Learn to change yourself, learn to emotionally regulate. Right. Well, and I know in one of the things that I teach in my communication classes, because most of us externalize the source of our emotions. You made me mad, the dog made me mad, the horse pissed me off, whatever it is, or hurt my feelings or whatever, and it's all external. And what people don't realize is that...

whatever it is that that animal did or the person did or somebody said to you, that's just a trigger. And it triggers a physiological process. And it also, for most people, it triggers a significant internal dialogue. So when the guy, and the example I always give is somebody cutting you off on the freeway, right? And it's like, I know you saw that exit and you start having this dialogue in your head and guess what? You will.

Create this story that turns you into a raging maniac. You're raising your own blood pressure, you're hurting yourself, and even if you don't let him in, if you manage to stay on the bumper of that person in front of you, some idiot three cars up, just kidding, but that's what you're thinking, like, I can't believe you let him in, and you're having a fit about that. But if you change the scenario, and instead of, it's that jerky guy in a Mercedes who thinks he doesn't have to wait in the line like the rest of us, and you change that to, it's a surgeon in the Mercedes that is going to the hospital,

Amy Castro (32:44.942)
to save somebody's mom or their child, you would never be having that dialogue. You wouldn't be having those emotions and you'd be letting him come on in in front of me. And so again, he's oblivious. He has no idea. So if we can control that, it's the recognition that it's happening, the physiological signals that it's happening and then get a hold of that self -talk and change it around, even if it's not true. He doesn't know.

He doesn't know you're mad and you're frustrated and you, you know, we're wishing bad things on him. He's just on his merry way, cutting in front of somebody else. So all you're doing is raising up your own blood pressure or bumping the guy in front of you and hurting your car because you were so mad. Or yeah, potentially create a bigger chain reaction or who knows what. Here's the crazy thing. Five minutes, five minutes of upsetness, which if you have that scenario playing out right in the, in the car, it's you're, you're pissed off for a lot longer than five minutes, typically.

Yeah. Right. You're chattering the whole way down. I can't believe that jerk. And, you know, what, what, what, what, what, what, what, what,

that night, it's because your body is still doing the cortisol dump and it's still trying to, to re -regulate after an argument. Right. Well, and now you add that, you know, translating that back to pets. So you're mad at the dog for drooling water all over the floor. And it's interesting how people, when they're angry at their pets, or even if they're not angry, where they just like, they attribute motive, like he knows he's not supposed to do that.

You really think he's thinking, how much water can I get in my mouth and how far can I drag it across the house? He's, you know, the dog's not thinking that, or I'll show her for going on vacation, I'm gonna pee outside the litter box, that kind of thing. And people literally will say things like that. And so now you've attributed motive to an animal that has none in those instances, and then you've created this story in your head, you've made yourself all enraged and upset about it. And if you're saying, okay, it's lasting in your body for eight hours, now that animal's paying the price for eight hours.

Amy Castro (34:56.174)
Exactly, because with every single heartbeat, you're still pissed off. And you're still broadcasting. It was really astounding. And like I say, the work I do now with the horses, you know, that's what's so fun about horses is they give you instant feedback. So even if you think on the outside, you've got this great picture and you're holding it together. Horses read past the BS, they see what's really going on on the inside. And they call you out on it. It's great. Yeah.

I mean, that's really something for people to, for me too, to think about, to think about that long -term impact. And like I said, going back to the origins, you know, not creating these stories around our pets, you know, attributing human motive to them that they don't have. They don't have the ability to think through that process well enough that like, let me see how I can ruin her day.

Well, and again, because our brains are so complex, right? We're either we're often stuck in the past, we're in the present, and we're also worried about the future. So sometimes we're in like all three zones, where dogs and cats don't have that they're literally in the moment, you know, the dog went to the bowl and did its thing and slobbered up the water and was like, good, I satisfied my need, you know, you and I get crazy about the slobber and you know, the Turner and Hooch moment of the slimers on the wall, and I've had that dog.

And again, it's one of those things I used to always ask my kids, you know, when they get mad, I was going to say, okay, so the question to ask yourself is, is this going to matter in six months? Probably not. Is this going to matter in 24 hours? Probably not. Yeah. It probably barely matters in the next 30 seconds. Learning how to just reframe things so that, yeah, you learn to stop and to pause and to have that greater awareness and have happy pits. Yeah.

Yeah, happy pets and not contribute to behavioral issues with them or reinforce them. Cause that's kind of where I wanted to just head next, just to finish out that thought about behavior issues. Like let's just use reactivity as an example and how our own awareness can help address our pets behavioral issues. for sure. Especially like I say, with the work you do or with anybody that's doing rescue work. Cause typically those guys come in with some type of either behavior or emotional issue.

Amy Castro (37:11.758)
based on their previous experience. And so, so in some level, you know, yes, there are some, some emotional baggage, right? With, with those animals, because they're anticipating a certain response from a human. And so they've got to relearn trust and all of that. But again, if you can help foster that environment within yourself, it facilitates their learning so much more quickly. Right.

And I think that's why this works so well with horses too, because horses are like the example I gave earlier about my horse and being just afraid of everything. And it was interesting, I many, many years later started riding again and I was riding this, not recently off the track, thank God, but off the track thoroughbred. And I remember the first time I saw the horse and of course it was a cold day and you know how horses are in cold days, you know, it's the kicking up the heels and I'm thinking.

I'm 40 something years old. Do I really need to get back into this riding thing again? And it turned out great. His name was Shadow. He was great. But boy, when anytime we'd get out on the road, I would just like, I'd see something move. I'd see something coming and I'd already start. And he was solid. The only time he ever spooked and it was just a startle was one time a peacock came like literally out of the blue, out of a tree and whooped down in front of us both. And we both jumped, but he didn't take off or start backing into traffic or anything like that, which is what my...

other horse used to do. So it was just interesting. I was still carrying that baggage for like 25, 30 years and then anticipating it on another horse. And I'm sure had I continued to go along that line, I probably could have turned him into a spooky horse if I wasn't careful. Absolutely. Yeah. I had to learn that journey myself with my current horse because he was a little bit spooky and insane thing. He's huge. He's 2000 pounds and he's a Clydesdale. So he's a big guy. And he put me in the dirt.

couple times and that's a long way to the ground. And so same thing, I would hook myself to my monitor as I rode so I could see, okay, why did I just turn, you know, so that we show you on a dial of red, green, blue. And so the red is when you're out of coherence, blue is transitioning green in coherence. And all that means is just all of your energetic systems are working in alignment. And so I had to retrain myself. And it took me almost a year to get over it.

Amy Castro (39:27.854)
of just, again, not anticipating and just getting on and being able to enjoy the ride. And if I'm having a bad day, like I say, I just verbalize that out loud. Hey, this has nothing to do with you. I am going to get on your back and we are going to share space. Right. Because when you're on the horse, obviously you're in their their energy bubble, their, you know, heart field, whatever you want to call it. And so I just made it very clear like whatever crap I'm carrying, this is not yours. It's mine. And you don't need to take it on.

Yeah, I think oftentimes we're unlearning, it could be a lifetime worth of whatever it is, fear, anxiety, behavior, conditioning, all of the above. And so it's not gonna happen overnight that you're suddenly gonna, like somebody's afraid of dogs and so therefore all dogs act weird towards them. Well, that's not gonna suddenly change overnight if you've been afraid of dogs since you got bitten when you were three kind of thing. Right, right. No, it's a journey for sure.

So what would you recommend to somebody who has listened to this and said, I need to start working on this. And obviously, you know, we've just hit the tip of the iceberg here. If they were looking to develop their emotional awareness, because I think it's got to create a better connection with your pets when you've got that awareness and that control. It also creates a better connection with yourself. Yeah. Right. So usually I tell people, you know, the first step to anything is self -awareness, self -regulation.

you've got to be able to put your own oxygen mask on first, or you can help others. So if people are curious, there is so much information. So there's two websites, there's heartmath .com. And that's kind of the sales site, if you will, if you wanted to find a coach or a trainer to work with, you can buy any of the technology. And then there's heartmath .org. And the .org site is so wide and so deep, you can type in any

subject in the search bar. And there are literally hundreds of white papers that have been written. And so there's just years and years worth of document and science on some of the studies that they've done. So lots of lots of tools and techniques. And then like I said, I was happy to just walk your listeners through the heart focused breathing. It's one of those things. It's simple, but it's not easy, because you're interrupting an old pattern.

Amy Castro (41:47.534)
Right? It's that catching yourself. It's that self -awareness piece. It's that stopping the old behavior before the train, you know, leaves the station. But I've worked with a lot of kids, especially during COVID, because they couldn't get into therapists. And even just doing this one technique, I had one little girl, she was doing some self -harming behavior and just anyway, it was a whole lot of things. But I said, I just, I want you to set an alarm on your phone. I want you to do this 20 times a day when you walk into the classroom and you walk out of the classroom.

When you get on the bus, when you go, you know, set up a schedule. And I probably took three weeks, but within three weeks was different kit. No medications needed. I mean, it was just, it's crazy. I could say if you can train yourself to do this, how fast the turnaround actually comes. Think of us like a cell phone. You only have so much battery, you know, and you're either draining that battery or you were, you are renewing the battery. And so.

The unfortunate thing is most people let their battery get to red before they recognize there's a problem. So unfortunately we don't do good self care. We don't constantly learn how to recharge our own battery. And so the heart focused breathing technique really is the first part of the heart -mouth kind of techniques, if you will. And it stops, it helps plug those energy drains. So it stops that outward flow. So let's just do it. So get comfortable in your chair.

For a lot of people, again, these are not meant to be done like in this meditative, eyes closed state. These are meant to be done eyes open in the moment. Like I say, I'm doing heart focused breathing right now. This is not about meditation or any of that. And all it is, is bring your awareness to your heart or chest area. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest.

breathing a little bit slower and a little bit deeper than usual.

Amy Castro (43:55.726)
for most people were not trained to quiet the mind. And so when you focus on your heart, so when you do the heart focused breathing, you're going from here to here. And so anytime you bring your awareness to an area of your physiology, you change that physiology. So if I had you hooked to a monitor and you were doing this heart focused breathing, so just your breath coming in and out of your heart or chest area,

And you just want to find a comfortable, even rhythm, whether it's inhale to the count of three, exhale to the count of three.

If I had you hooked to a monitor, your heart would be coming into a slower pace. So it would actually literally be beating slower, but it would also begin to beat more smoothly. So instead of that erratic pattern, then you're going to start to have a little bit more smoothness and less wear and tear on the body. Then from that place, so bring your awareness to the area of your heart. Imagine your breath.

going in and out of your heart or chest area. Breathing a little bit slower and a little bit deeper than usual.

And now make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative emotion, such as appreciation, care, or compassion for someone or something in life.

Amy Castro (45:35.438)
So for a lot of people, I ask them to imagine if there's a place they love to go that triggers a positive feeling.

if there's a certain pet in their life, whether it's still with them or past that triggers that positive feeling.

Amy Castro (45:56.654)
and try to re -experience that thing.

And then you begin to learn, okay, wow, this is what coherence actually feels like. I'm quieter, calmer.

And then once you have that awareness of what that feels like, you can start to choose that.

and you start to notice like, wow, my heart is starting to race or I'm starting to notice I'm on edge or I'm starting to notice I'm getting angry or whatever it is. And this isn't about, you know, I always get the question of is this bypassing your emotions? And it's not, right? We need our emotions. We need anger. We need, we need all of them. That is our body's innate way of communicating with us. Emotions are very, very valuable.

Discernment is more powerful though. I already know that if I'm angry, I am not gonna make a good decision because my brain's gonna go offline. Not the time to discipline the dog, not the time to really talk to anybody. So it's again, it's discernment. So, okay, I got triggered, I'm mad, what's that really about? Starting to ask some different questions, again, having a much higher level of awareness so that you can then say, okay, he's just...

Amy Castro (47:17.358)
a heart surgeon on his way to save somebody's life, give the guy some grace or whatever it is, whatever the dialogue is you choose to have. Bring yourself down a notch, do a couple of heart focused breaths and it's like, okay, let's carry on with our day. Be like a dog, be like a cat. They don't hang on to any, I mean, that's not true. They do hang on to some of that stuff out of fear, especially if they've been, it's been severe, prolonged, you know, abuse or neglect or whatever it is. But they let a lot go.

They let so much go and part of what triggers them, right, is yes, they may have some old crap, but if we show up and mirror that right back to them, of course they're gonna get reactive. Of course they're gonna be afraid. If I can show up fully present and just in a calm, even if just in a calm state, right, I just gave them a blank slate to work with. Yeah. Yeah, I think sometimes people don't realize when my dog is nervous about something, if I...

baby them and spend a lot of time telling them, it's okay, it's okay. It's like, well, then I must have something to be worried about because she's still having this reaction. So it's, you know, they think they're comforting the dog, but they're actually making it worse in many instances by just reacting to it. And if they just kind of stayed in a calm state, instead of doing so much talking and so much physical reacting, the dog would be a lot better off. Yeah. And so saying like, so with the heart focused breathing.

So as you take that breath in, and that's one of the things, I could not do the quick coherence. I could not activate a positive emotion when I first started this. That was just not, truly, that was just not even in my wheelhouse. And so I just, so we have a technique in our ease. And so I just had to imagine breathing in ease. I'm a recovering perfectionist. And so I just had to imagine,

Breathing in ease. And that was kind of the first step of my journey. For a lot of people, we're just not taught that and it's sad to me. Right. So Amy, if somebody wanted to work with you, I know you're in Colorado and you also work with groups, like with corporate, you know, like teams and things like that. How does that work? Yep. You can, you can absolutely find it through my website. There's a calendar link. So if you want to have a discussion, that's great. You can set up a time for a free.

Amy Castro (49:40.718)
30 minute consultation. It's wholeheartranch .com. And so the work with the horses is a lot about this. It's because horses give you real time feedback. It's really fun, especially with intact teams because there's almost always an undercurrent. yeah. And nobody wants to talk about it. Yeah. And nobody wants to voice it, but it will show up.

Yeah, and the problem's never really about what they say it's about. Exactly, right? It's like three levels down, and that's the fun thing, you know, is again, doing all of that and having it come out and the aha moments. Yeah, well, speaking of aha, I know I've had some aha moments in this episode today, because like I said, it's been really weighing on my mind over the last, I mean, it's not that I've not always been sort of a hothead, but I'm kind of one of those flash in the pan hotheads. I don't feel like I hang on to it, but.

now that I know the physiology behind it. And even if I think I've let it go, the impact that it's having not only on me and on my pets, I think kind of nipping it in the bud or especially the extreme level that sometimes things go to. And I'm glad that you said, I think it is important for people to realize that you're gonna have your emotions, you're entitled to your emotions. One of the things that I teach is about how to express them, that it's okay to tell people I'm angry about that.

I was disappointed in that it's just not okay to act it out because it's not good for you. It's not good for the other person. It's not good for your pets. So it's not something they teach in school. That's for sure. Well, I'm woman on a mission. I've got a daughter -in -law that's a teacher and a new granddaughter. And so it's like, we've just got to change our world. And I think our animals have so much to give us in that respect if we can take a page from their book. Yeah.

Well, Amy, thank you so much for being here with us today and for sharing your wisdom and your knowledge and really has given me a lot of food for thought and I'm sure it has for my listeners as well. Good. Well, I appreciate that so much, Amy. It's been fun and I hope there's some benefit for people down the road and that they can at least, you know, get the wheels turning in their own brain and maybe approach, you know, how they love and care for their pets a little bit differently.

Amy Castro (51:55.758)
Right. Start the journey towards your own mental and physical health and better health and relationship with your pets for sure. Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Sure. Thank you. And thank you everybody for listening to another episode of Starlight Pet Talk. We will see you next week. Thanks for listening to Starlight Pet Talk.

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