I got lost the other day. There was a bunch of noise outside, and I ran out to see what it was. I heard a coyote singing far off in the distance and went to investigate. I lost track of time as I tracked the scent path of the coyote for over a mile. Suddenly I realized I was a LONG way from home, and I wasn’t sure how to get back!
I’m not alone very often except when I’m in the safety of my own house. To be out in the wilds all by myself was scary. I had just started back the way I’d come when I heard a whole pack of coyotes singing! I realized I was surrounded! Would they attack me? Was I going to be shredded limb from limb?
I panicked and started to run. I was crashing through the brush, catching my ears and my fur on thorns and branches without even noticing. I was so scared, I forgot to think! I ran and ran until I couldn’t run anymore. Finally, I had to stop. I was just too exhausted to continue! I stood in a clearing, shaking with terror, and realized I had no idea where I was.
Then I remembered something Jane had said. She had explained the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain to a student. She described how one side is wired for big picture thinking and emotions, and the other is wired for detail, logic, and linear thought. I realized I was totally absorbed in my emotions of fear. I wasn’t thinking with my calm logical mind. I realized I needed to use my whole brain! I took a deep breath, told myself to calm down, and to think. Then I put my nose in the air and sniffed for home. I noticed a faint but familiar scent and headed off that direction. Before long I was back in my own yard!
Sometimes switching from ineffective panic to effective action is simply becoming aware that you have a choice. Take a deep breath. Breathe out the emotional tension as much as you can. And then purposely activate your logical, thinking mind. Then you can make good decisions on how to best deal with the challenge at hand.
Now that I’m calmed down, I want to go find those coyotes again. Maybe they just want to play. Would you go with me, just in case? I promise my nose can guide us safely back home.