Do you have a pet?
If yes, no doubt you are already well aware of many of the blessings
of having your dear friend.
If no, and especially if you never did, I hope reading about these blessings
will encourage you to open your heart to one.
Most would agree that the primary benefits of having a pet
are that we receive companionship and unconditional love.
Our pet protects us from feeling lonely and unloved,
which we all feel sometimes even if we are loved and connected.
For those of us who are alone
and do not presently have someone who loves us,
having the love and companionship of a pet
can protect us from feeling hopeless.
These are all huge blessings!
But today I want to offer you some thoughts
on how having a pet has the potential to do even more for us.
The day to day experience of caring for our pet
can increase our self awareness.
It can open up insight into our own nature,
which we can then apply to building our self
into a stronger and more tender person.
Are you game to explore some of these possibilities with me?
Let’s DO this!
Having a pet is a relationship
Though a pet isn’t human, we relate to our pets much as if they were.
We don’t simply own them, as we own a car.
We build a relationship with them.
The kind of relationship we build reveals a great deal about us.
Learning to relate well with our pet develops our capability
to build a good relationship with a friend or love partner.
It also builds our potential to be a good parent to a child.
It actually prepares us for parenthood,
when we are responsible for another life!
Strength and tenderness
The essential capabilities needed to build all good relationships
are strength and tenderness.
The primary thing we can learn about ourselves through our relationship
with our pet is:
Am I strong and tender?
That is, do I handle my power gently?
We need to recognize that our actual power with our pet is immense.
We hold their lives in our hands, just as if they were a baby.
Being strong is completely different from being on a power trip.
Being strong means tenderly and gently channeling our power:
only for the benefit of our pet, never for their harm.
When we feel weak
When we are feeling weak, we may feel tempted to assert power
over our pet in order to give us the illusion of strength.
When we hit them or shout at them,
cause them pain by neglecting their needs,
or pen them up beyond what is necessary,
we may feel “powerful”—but at their expense.
It takes courage to acknowledge that we sometimes mistreat our pets
to make ourselves feel strong.
But most of us, at some time, do.
We have surely seen how many people abuse their children for this purpose.
The liberating power of self awareness
The beauty of self awareness is that it allows us to change our ways
before we get set in them.
We can change our ways while we have a pet,
before we go on later to treat our partner or our kids this way.
Becoming aware that we ourselves can be bullies,
behaving much like the big shots we despise,
can hit us hard.
Go ahead, let it hit.
It won’t kill you. It will liberate you.
You can transform your future by learning to ask yourself:
Why would I want to play the bully
overpowering and intimidating my pet (partner, child)
when I could be the strong and tender person
who nurtures and defends them?
The ultimate blessing of having a pet is we get to grow.
You will be amazed how beautiful a human being
your pet will make you!
In what ways do you think you would grow by having a pet?
I would love to hear!