Lessons from Animals
Alright, I’m going to be really honest with you here. There are times when I am not honest. That’s right, I’ve admitted it. And man, does it ever feel good to say it out loud. Because here’s the facts: Most of us are not honest with ourselves or others most of the time. You’re very welcome to dispute this after you’ve gone through your life and all your actions, past and present, with a fine toothed comb — but not until then. I’ll give you a moment to ponder this rather strong statement and come to your own conclusions (I’ll warn you though. It is rather tricky to look at the truest truth about ourselves)…
Here’s the thing about human beings that I have started to notice through careful study and observation (of myself mostly). We, as a species, or shall I say some part of us, likes to be liked. We enjoy approval and fitting in and being wanted and appreciated and praised. We do not, for the most part, enjoy conflict and criticism and above all rejection. And so like any animal, we avoid those things that bring us what we don’t like; we practice and repeat the behaviours that bring us what we enjoy. It’s quite simple really. But, here’s the clincher. We are the only species that has the capacity to choose whether we will be truthful or not. For example, if my past experience suggested that telling someone how I truly felt about them would bring rejection and perhaps even conflict, I could choose not only to keep these feelings from them, but even to create a story that was the opposite of my true feelings. In this case perhaps I would tell them how wonderful I feel they are and how much I enjoy or appreciate their actions, when in fact this is very far from the truth. In the animal world (particularly with horses), this discrepancy is referred to as incongruency, or when our inner state does not match our actions or words.
Not surprisingly, many animals view this type of behaviour as dangerous. In the horse world, it can mean the difference between life and death. Take the following example. There is a bear meandering through the forest, seemingly oblivious to the herd of horses grazing a few hundred feet away. It is up to the horses to sense whether his meandering is indicative of a full and content belly, or whether it is a false pretense, covering up the fact that he is very hungry and on the hunt. If they respond incorrectly it could have dire consequences. Not surprisingly, evolution has sharpened this sense to ensure safety.
As humans, even though we tend to be further away from our instinctual nature, we can still sense when someone is being incongruent with us. Often our awareness feels like irritation and confusion, and perhaps a sense that someone cannot quite be trusted. It starts to make sense then, why so often our relationships with others feel distant or not quite right.
This past week, I’ve had several surprising opportunities to be honest with myself and others. In choosing honesty (or what feels true from a deep heart space), to my great shock, all results have been positive, and some have been downright beautiful and life changing. It seems that when we show up as our selves, others are allowed to do the same. Who would have thought! So in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, here is mine…
I resolve to be true to my heart, even when there is a chance that others may be upset for a time. I acknowledge that this congruency will strengthen the trust of my friends and acquaintances, and deepen our relationships.
Have a wonderful 2012!
Alexa Linton, is a Certified Bodytalk Practitioner, a Kinesiologist, Reiki Practitioner and Equine Sport Therapist.