Pets are great teachers. Not necessarily of good manners, but of the things that really matter. I can think of a couple lessons right off the top of my head.
First, they’re experts at moving on once something is over. Cat left a little deposit for you that wasn’t where it was supposed to be? She knows you took care of it; it’s over. And there is no doubt that at feeding time she’ll hear the sound of that can being opened and know that you will leave a much nicer deposit than she did in her bowl for dinner. She trusts that one mistake doesn’t derail the whole journey. Life does go on.
Dog chews your favorite shoe? He doesn’t open the door and walk himself to the Pound after you yell at him. Even if you use your worst Mommy or Daddy voice. Nope; he just lays low, curls up somewhere and catches up on his rest. Then later he scratches at the door, knowing darn well you’ll either let him out to play in the yard or take him for a walk. He knows he messed up, but he also knows he hasn’t ruined your whole life (even though just between us, a shoe was probably the worst thing he could have ruined.)
Animals seem to instinctively know that an “incident” is just that, a single occurrence. It takes many incidents, good and bad, to make a day, and even more to make a week or a year. They know they have second or third or fourth chances. And they will use them.
Don’t you wish we could be that forgiving of ourselves for needing more than one chance to do something right? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Shouldn’t we at least be able to start over without beating ourselves up about the past?
I think we should take the example from our pets and keep expecting to go on in a positive direction. Keep expecting the “food bowl” to be full of new ideas to try out, savor, and grow strong from digesting.
Certainly we’ll all be different and have different favorites that work especially well for us, but isn’t it nice to have choices and chances? Look for them on your journey from healing to thriving. Have faith that they’re there, and they will be. Believe you deserve them. And then do what my dog does: take a nap and wake refreshed – there’s still a whole world to see.
What have you learned from your pets? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below and tell me your story. We may all learn from it.
Coretta Dixon is a highly regarded businesswoman and sexual assault survivor. Her own traumatic experiences and exemplary work done through the healing process, along with her Master’s Degree and business experience in Change Management, equip her well to act as a coach to those who have done the work of healing and now wish to “thrive.” She can be reached at email@example.com.