What Important Secrets Can We Learn From Animals About Relationships?
PHIL: A dear friend has been badly shaken by the loss of her cat of 15 years. I had a cat called Bert who died unexpectedly, and I was in grief for months.
This is something I have heard time and time again; how deeply the loss of a pet is felt. There is a purity to the bond we have that comes from the fact that our human relationships are verbal, emotional and physical (and perhaps you would add spiritual), and words, the world of ideas, can predominate and obscure the others. With a pet, the language is much more basic, and the connection is much more emotional and physical. The loss of such a companion is like losing an emotional part of ourselves that takes time to heal and scab over, just as losing part of our flesh would do.
I’ve written elsewhere about how language gave us a new and different way to understand and respond in the world, and so we have these two different “voices” of language and emotions that can have disparate opinions on how we respond. Neither voice speaks the other’s language, and our great challenge as humans is to hear both voices and find agreement between them. The mythos of human rationality is so strong that when there is a disagreement, our feelings are often dismissed as irrational, as not making sense, even though that word also describes how we are aware of our feelings.
As already mentioned, our relationships with each other are verbal, emotional and physical, but we don’t usually pay full attention to the emotional. Maude and I have had events – Maude had a TIA, I had acute food poisoning – that suddenly revealed the intensity of our emotional connection, and by knowing that this deep river runs alongside our daily interactions, we can rest in trust at the strength of our relationship. Look for it in your relationships, too. When you are with someone, be silent and take it in. Hear that other voice that speaks without words.Animals offer a complete and unfettered loving presence #quote #pets Click To Tweet
MAUDE: The passing of loved ones and the grief and deep sense of loss that accompanies that experience is very profound for all of us, regardless of our spiritual beliefs. For those that remain, there is a loss of the presence and the direct experience of what we share in that relationship.
Recently, the longtime cat companion of a dear friend passed, causing me to reflect on the relationships with our animal friends and what we share with them. At core, all relationships have certain areas of exchange that fulfill deep and important needs that we have.
With companion animals we receive a form of exchange that takes place on a mindal, emotional and physical level. An important characteristic of these exchanges is they are non-verbal and as such have a purity of connection often not found in our human interchanges, allowing them to reach us on such a meaningful level.
Animals sense our emotions and respond with love, comfort and acceptance. We receive a profound sense of being seen, felt, heard and even clearly acknowledged. They offer physical reassurance and freely given love, as well as the chance to care for them and to receive uncomplicated loyalty.
To say it directly, they offer complete and unfettered loving presence.
It is these aspects that have led me to want to write about this in our blog on peaceful harmonious relationships. We too can offer these things in all our relationships: love, comfort and acceptance, as well as hearing, seeing and acknowledging each other.
Most of all we can give the gift of our presence; a presence that asks nothing and seeks nothing but the chance to be there for each other. We can offer the warmth of our physical presence, a silent shared witnessing of what each of us is experiencing and the willingness to be there with our full selves. In this, as in in many other areas, we can learn much from our animal friends.
Photo credit: Elisabeth Callahan
Photo note: Beau on kitchen counter
Read what some other writers have to say on this topic.
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