Pressure Points

Bunnyfufu, Shih Tzu, Dog, Animal

I used to watch the Dog Whisperer with Caesar Millan a lot. I had been thinking about getting a dog at the time and wanted to be as ready for it as I could. I must have seen the entirety of the first few seasons at least twice. Caesar Millan had a quote that stuck with me even though not much else did as I spoiled my own dog silly once I got him. I can’t remember the quote exactly so I’m paraphrasing but it goes something like this. “There is Bunnyfufu (your dog), it’s breed and then the fact that it is still a dog.” For those of us who have a pet whether it be a dog, cat or anything else once we have an emotional attachment we tend to forget that it is and always will be an animal.

“A dog can’t think that much about what he’s doing, he just does what feels right.”
Barbara Kingsolver

You often see people with their dogs or cats anthropomorphize them or treat them as if they were human, I’ve heard many friends complain that their mothers treating their dogs better than them. I know I treat my dog more of a friend and companion than a dog, again as I said I spoil him. Whether it be the way we talk to them or what we expect out of them we sometimes forget that they are dogs and animals.

Just try to say ‘no’ to me.

The quote though I think extends to more than just pets, I think it extends to people as well. The first thing that we need to realize is what separates ‘human’ actions to those of mere animals. We always have to remember that regardless of how far humanity has advanced we are still animals deep down inside and rely on our basic instincts to ‘survive’ many of our daily situations.

The biggest difference between a ‘human’ action compared to an ‘animalistic’ action is the idea of future results and consequences. If I give me dog a big steak, he isn’t concerned about things like his cholesterol, digestion or anything else. All he cares about is eating that steak. With enough training my dog has learned a bit of self-control in that he won’t snatch the steak from the plate and run off, but he’ll go through his routine of sitting, offering his paw and begging because he knows that will get him some nicely cut pieces of steak. This is Bunnyfufu taking over and not the actions of a simple dog or Shih Tzu. If I weren’t there though to bring out Bunnyfufu and there were simply a steak left for him I’m sure that he’ll just eat it though as there is nothing to keep that side of him in check.

Just because puppies are cute~

(BTW my dog’s name is not Bunnyfufu, if it were he would most likely of killed me in my sleep.)

So the training that Bunnyfufu has gone through is to make him less of a dog and a bit more human, with the ability to think (or at least have the training to know) about conditional rewards. That if he behaves well then he will be rewarded by a treat. The more you think like a human the longer we are able to give up on immediate gratification in order for a larger reward. The ability to use episodic memory (understanding actions and events in the past and how they relate to other events in order to think about the future) is one of the traits that sets humans apart from their animal brethren. Yet, there are instances where we forget our humanity in order to fulfill our immediate desires.

Deevolution

I thought it was fruit, I swear.

We all have instances where we devolve and give way to our animal instincts. We’ve all cheated on a diet by eating a candy bar or ice cream only to later regret it. There are times when we’ve stayed up too late binge watching Netflix or finishing a book (yes, some people still read) knowing we have an important appointment in the morning. There are even cases that are more nefarious as we have all been tempted to cheat or take a ‘shortcut’ in order to gratify ourselves, even while knowing that it could cause us harm in the future. These small actions regardless of how significant or insignificant they are in our lives is ourselves devolving into following our animal instincts for instant gratification. Instead of thinking about the future we are simply thinking of the now as the future has no meaning to us. We splurge on things without thinking about our rent due at the end of the month because we want that shiny, new thingamajiggy now. In most cases there is nothing wrong with a little cheating on a diet or making ourselves feel better by splurging, but there are point where we don’t realize the harm we are not only doing to ourselves, but to those around us as well. There are instances where we react to a situation without any thought, reverting to an instinctive reaction of fight or flight. Most of us have sensitive points that always tend to set off these base reactions.

Personal Pressure Points

A pressure point is something that martial artists have known about for thousands of years. They are spots on our bodies where even a slight pressure can cause extreme pain. Like hitting your funny bone a small bump can cause pain beyond what is expected. As pain is one of the more powerful stimuli in breaking us down to instinctive reaction in combat knowing the pressure point of the enemy is a key point. We all have emotional pressure points as well. Whether it be a comment or jab at our weight, looks or ideas it always tends to spring us into a completely irrational way of thinking. It could be a comment on a poor decision that we made in the past or of someone we care about. It can be a physical action as well. I’ve known people who freak out at having certain parts of their body touched such as their head or feet. Whatever it may be there are certain ultra-sensitive spots that tend to send us in a frenzy often times without us even being aware of it.

“I couldn’t trust my own emotions. Which emotional reactions were justified, if any? And which ones were tainted by the mental illness of BPD? I found myself fiercely guarding and limiting my emotional reactions, chastising myself for possible distortions and motivations. People who had known me years ago would barely recognize me now. I had become quiet and withdrawn in social settings, no longer the life of the party. After all, how could I know if my boisterous humor were spontaneous or just a borderline desire to be the center of attention? I could no longer trust any of my heart felt beliefs and opinions on politics, religion, or life. The debate queen had withered. I found myself looking at every single side of an issue unable to come to any conclusions for fear they might be tainted. My lifelong ability to be assertive had turned into a constant state of passivity.”
Rachel Reiland, Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder

Sadly, those that we are closest to tend to know these points as well and are able to do pinpoint attacks on them when they feel the need. I would say that in many cases they are unaware of what they are doing, but do so out of habit. With certain relationships I’ve had in the past when an argument or disagreement starts it would always end in the some way with the other person hitting me where it hurts until I degrade to my basic instincts.

My friend saw her mom again for the first time in close to a decade. They live in different countries and have not had an opportunity to do so before. They spoke on the phone all the time and were on good terms with each other so it wasn’t a matter of avoidance, but simply one of circumstance. Her mother came to visit her for a month, and as soon as the first thing went wrong (she forgot where she parked) her mom pulled out the same little quips and comments that had them arguing literally from the first day to the last. They still love each other and care, but they also know exactly how to set each other off and realized that space apart is better for their overall relationship.

As time has gone on I’ve really tried to learn what my own pressure points were. In most cases they were based on some sort of emotional trauma that I had in the past and the scar tissue was still too tender. By going back and trying to make sense of it in some cases I’ve been able to heal some of those wounds and in other cases I’ve tried to learn the steps to avoid situations where people can poke at those scabs.

I haven’t figured them all out and when I’m with certain people the wounds become fresh again so care is always given by myself. I really don’t like to lash out without thinking as it tends to do more harm than good. Most of my own pressure points do center around mistakes that I’ve made and now acknowledge. I am sensitive to them mainly because I feel shame in what I was or did in the past. Unfortunately I can’t go back in time to correct my mistakes, but I do try to learn from them and try not to repeat them (often I fail). The main thing is that these pressure points tend to accumulate over time, if someone finds one and causes me to react in a way that I’m sorry or shameful for then a new pressure point has not been created, so in most cases I’ve realized there are some things that I can’t fix in my past, but there are things I can do to try to prevent new ones from forming.

Originally posted 2017-01-15 20:20:26.

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