“You are so adorable, and all I can do is love you.” That’s what we say to our pets, and it’s so easy. But can you say it to yourself? Can you find that creature inside you who is just craving a little affection, and can you give her the love she deserves?
What Our Pets Teach Us About Personal Growth
The quality of love that we have for small, cute creatures, it’s a special thing, isn’t it? It’s so warm, so lacking in judgement, and so full of loving-kindness that it makes us feel good on the inside. The feeling, it seems, awakens in us what it really means to be human: that we are capable of unconditional compassion, and that the expression of this is the highest thing we can strive for.
Surely that’s one of the reasons we have pets. And if we don’t have a pet, we want one. And even if we don’t want one (or if we wisely resist the temptation because we don’t have the time or the space), then we find ourselves watching those videos of people rescuing injured animals and loving them back to health. Or the ones of animals doing ridiculous things, which make us call out, ’Oh, come and watch this. So funny!’. Those feelings of care, lightness and joy feel so good. They lift us to a higher place, and the view from there is so magnificent that we don’t want to come down.
Children – now, I’m not sure, because I don’t have kids, but I imagine, while similar, they’re not the same. The thing about our animals is that they’re not us. Sure, dogs look like their owners and all that, but they’re not an extention of our gene pool. They don’t carry the responsibility of our family name. And as much as we might want our dog to behave well in public, we don’t project onto them all that baggage that our public lives are dependent on. They’re not a reflection of our external self.
But, I do believe, they touch deeply on who we want to be on the inside.
On the inside, we want affection, care and emotional warmth. We want it to be flowing freely and abundantly from an unlimited source. We want to be part of a generous cycle of giving and receiving, of nurturing and being cared for. But obstacles get in the way – the usual things – life, history, our conditioning. And when the flow of that goodness is blocked, it’s difficult to live out our full potential. That little creature inside us hasn’t the opportunity to grow.
Our animals, through their loveliness, melt through the barriers. They connect us with that part of ourselves which is so wanting to stretch out and sing. Part of what we love about our animals is who-we-are-when-we’re-with-them: a human being who is capable of a tenderness which is so pure that it’s beyond language, biology and reason.
The point is that this quality of love is always, already there. Our animals give us temporary access, but then our strategies of survival close over and stop the flow.
Personal growth, then, is mostly about identifying the obstacles that are blocking this stream of goodness and shifting them out of the way.
And our lovable animals are teachers. They help us test the water. They take us gently to the place where it’s not too deep, where the current hasn’t much tow.
When you’re loving your pet or laughing at video antics or resisting the urge to take that puppy home, can you harness that feeling? Can you hold that tenderness for a moment and shine it in on yourself? Can you find that small creature inside you and give her the gift of your love?
“My little one. You are so adorable, and all I can do is love you.”
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