One thing that I always tell my clients is that the experience that they are having with their pet’s illness is an experience that will benefit themselves if they are open to it. I say, “If it wasn’t for you, the lady across the street would be dealing with it.”
Everything in your life is in a relationship with you. Whether it is your pet, your spouse, your home, even your computer is in a relationship with you. You wake up in the morning and you have a relationship with the day and everything that happens during that day. So, it is not hard to imagine that maybe the purpose for our human experience is to experience life through relationships. Relationships are for us, that’s why we have them, and since all of life is relationships, it only makes sense that all of life is for us.
Every relationship is different and we all know the special relationship that we have with our beloved pets. Any relationship that provokes strong feelings is obviously a relationship that has great meaning and from that greatness comes opportunity for learning.
Pets bring great joy to our lives. They offer us unconditional love in a way that no other relationship offers. From the time they enter our lives until they leave, we have experience after experience filled with happiness. We learn about joy, happiness, forgiveness and responsibility from these wonderful relationships.
When our pets get ill and the end of the relationship is nearing we have the opportunity to learn a great deal more about ourselves. Because our relationship has been filled with joy, it becomes difficult to open ourselves to learning from the relationship when it is causing us pain.
When our pet gets ill we are often so focused on making it better, we often overlook what that experience is offering to us. Yes, it will benefit us if our pet gets well, but having a meaningful experience goes much deeper. Meaningful, as in, what is the meaning for this experience?
I talk to people every day that have a great opportunity to learn from the experience that they are having with their sick pet. The problem is that most people aren’t aware of the benefit of having this perspective and even if they did, they don’t know what they should be learning. Let’s look at this a bit.
Most of us human adults have spent most of our lives in a state of mind that is about 99% conditioned patterns. At early ages we start learning from our parents, siblings, friends, colleagues and society itself and from that learning and experience, we create individual perspectives. Those perspectives that we have developed are like a hard-drive on the computer. Psychologists call this our subconscious mind. Without much thought, we live moment to moment seeing and experiencing life from that perspective. It is like a filter that alters our reality in the moment into a reality that is aligned with our perspective. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to see this in action. How often have you been totally frustrated at a person for not being able to see your point of view? They aren’t being unreasonable. They are being conditioned to their perspective and not to yours. We used to have a sign on the wall at our vet clinic. It said, “Don’t try to teach a pig to dance. It will just frustrate you and annoy the pig.”
How does this happen and how does it affect our reality? We humans have very developed cognitive brain skills and it is constantly being bombarded with information. In order for the brain to handle the information, it selects what resonates with it and stores it in the hard drive so that in the future you won’t have to figure it out again. Remember the first few times you drove an automobile? You were totally focused on everything that you were doing in order to drive that car safely. You were aware of your feet on the pedals, your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road and so on. Now, you drive to your destination while talking with people in the car and pay very little attention to your driving. This can be done because your hard drive is in control of your driving while you are visiting with your friend.
Unfortunately, as the years go by, we spend most of our moments being run by our conditioned, subconscious mind and pay very little attention to what is going on in the present moment. We often need to be shaken by something in order to get out of that mental rut. If you are driving down the road talking to your friend and you hear a siren approaching, you break out of that conditioned mind pattern and turn your focus back on your driving.
These experiences that shake us out of our conditioned patterns give us the opportunity to mentally move back into the moment and have an experience that may give us an opportunity to change. Life is all about change, yet we do everything we can to resist change and our personal mind is there to help us resist it.
My Mother used to say, “When you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you.” This is a good metaphor for how we should be looking at these difficult experiences. What do I need to do to help my pet and what do I need to do to help myself. The learning road runs in both directions.
The first question that we need to ask ourselves (after the emotions have settled) should be, “How am I handling this situation?” This is a pretty good way to be objective about your state of mind. It separates you from the situation, allowing you to observe yourself. Try to imagine that you are observing a friend or family member handling a similar situation. Again, it keeps you objective.
Next, try to move a little deeper. Questions like, “What am I afraid of?” can be very insightful. If you ask this question and are genuinely open to the answers, they will come to the surface. Are you afraid that if you lose your pet you won’t be able to deal with the grief? Are you afraid that your life will not be as good without your pet? If you can, move even deeper. Are you really afraid of having to deal with death? Anything that causes you suffering has an attachment to an event in your life that you pushed into your subconscious to avoid dealing with it. Can you let those memories and emotions come to the surface so that you can face them and see what they truly are; thoughts and feelings with no substance.
If you reach that point, you have opened a gate that can be moved through if you are willing. Spiritualist call this transcending the ego-mind. You will become aware that fear is based on nothing but stories that your mind has been telling you throughout your life. Then, drop the story. It might change your life.
All of life’s experiences are blessings. All of them. It is just your conditioned mind that stands in the way to be aware of this. It is time to shake up that mind and learn the truth about yourself.