What Dogs, Cannabis, & Big Feelings Have in Common

A few years ago, when CBD’s were becoming part of our everyday vocabulary, I listened to a terrific podcast on the subject.

The reporter, who covers the marijuana industry for Rolling Stone Magazine, (Who knew that was a job?) said one thing that struck me then and has stayed with me since,

“The word ‘cannabis’ is similar to the word ‘dog,’ in that it could have a pretty huge range of expressions, right? You could see a chihuahua and you could also see a husky, and both of those are dogs.”

Her point? Like dogs, cannabis can also be bred and blended in multiple ways, and it’s important to ask clarifying questions, rather than making assumptions, when we talk about it.

Why am I writing about this today?

Because when someone tells us they have a dog, we ask clarifying questions, e.g. “What kind of dog? Shepherd? Dachshund? Beagle?”

But when someone tells us we are annoyed/sad/afraid, we treat it the same way many of us treat the word “cannabis”: we abandon clarifying questions. We ‘know’ what they mean—and, too often, we have rebuttals and/or solutions in mind.

Why am I am writing about this today?

Because last week, I wrote about non-violent communication and I wanted to follow up with one of their more useful tools:

The feelings inventory.

Let’s look at an example.

Say someone says, “I’m annoyed.”

Rather than saying, “That’s not my fault/problem,” or “Of course you are!” you might, instead, get curious about what kind of annoyed they are.

After checking the NVC ‘feelings’ inventory under “annoyed” you could ask:

“Does that mean you are frustrated? Dismayed? Impatient?”

Which, I think we can all agree, are very different ‘breeds’ (if we continue the dog analogy) or ‘strains’ (if we continue the cannabis analogy) of that emotion.

And getting to the bottom of which one it is might help you both gain clarity—without the use of therapy dogs or cannabis.


For more on the value of asking clarifying questions—of yourself—take a look at “Declare Yourself Illegitimate”