We have three animals in our family. Two aging small dogs, and a middle aged cat. Lily is the smallest of the three, a 13+years cross chihuaha. Lucy is our second dog, an almost 13 cross terrier and Bing is our 7 year old siamese cat. Aside from their own idiosyncracies, there is an interesting behaviour I have observed when they are all together…Lucy is afraid of our cat. Even though they are the same size and have spent all their lives together Lucy cannot assert herself when in the company of Bing. Lily, on the other hand, loves spending time with Bing and they play together quite a bit.
It was the invitation to play that Lucy first mis-understood. She thought it was an act of aggression when the cat first extended his paw to play. Lucy cowered slightly when this happenned and from that moment she has been afraid of approaching Bing. It is obvious that Bing has now realised the given power he has over the dog, and he uses this to prevent Lucy from passing in the hall, coming into the kitchen or walking into the house.
As an observer, I can see that Lucy’s fear is imaginary. All she needs to do is summon up her courage, be brave and face her fears. All it would take is one fearless attempt to learn that the cat is, in fact, a pussy. A pushover. I stand on the sidelines trying to encourage her to be brave, but at the end of the day, Lucy has to make that decision to try. Funny how now, as I am working on my own journey of self – forgiveness I can see examples of how our perceived reality affects our behaviours even when that reality is not shared with others (when we don’t even have social proof to validate our beliefs!).
Brene Brown lists four things necessary to embrace our vulnerability and not be afraid of risk taking:
1. Let ourselves be seen. Just putting ourselves out there is a brave act. Even as I write this public blog for the world to see, I keep forgetting that.
2. Love with our wholeheart. Don’t be afraid to say “I love you first” even when you don’t hear it back. Keep it unconditional, and use boundaries if you have to, but not exclusion.
3. Practice gratitude and joy. This is a biggie. I think this is key to packing in your kit when you walk the scary path of self-forgiveness and authenticity. Remembering joyous moments is a bit like having a mentos in your pocket – a little burst of energy when needed. I’ll share some of my sweets with you next Wednesday.
4. Believe that we are enough. Louise Hay, in her book You Can Heal Your Life, believes that all human problems stem from a belief that we’re not good enough. Even the issues that seem unrelated can be traced back to this feeling of inadequacy eventually.
My guess is that Lucy will accidentally discover her personal power one day. A bark or a step forward will turn the cat away and she will see for herself that she is stronger than she realised. We have the power to take it one step further – to choose to test our strength and face our fears. What a wonderful journey to choose…