Pets R Us

By Sulana Stone

Our animal friends are more than companions. Our furry and feathered playmates are reflections of our unconscious emotions and actions. Through their behavior, animals mirror the aspects of our lives that are out of harmony. These crafty creatures are on a compassionate mission: to help us re-align with our life goals when we get off course.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Sometimes this reflective phenomenon is easily seen between parents and children. On his TV show, Dr. Phil explains how children’s emotions and actions are reflections of their parents’ unconscious emotions and actions. Dr. Phil uses TV cameras in people’s homes to catch this reflection on video.

In one family, the cameras reveal how accurately a son reflects the emotional state of his mother. The mother is angry. The son is angry. Mom throws things when she is frustrated. So does her child. When feeling out of control, mom smacks her son. When having a tantrum, the child hits his mom. Before the mother saw her own actions on tape, she mistakenly thought that her son is the cause of the disharmony. The mother was unaware that her son is reflecting her own feelings. After seeing the tape, mom realizes that she will have to first change her own behavior before her child’s behavior will change.

The Pet Reflection

Animals, like children, also mirror our unconscious emotions and actions. Just like the son who reflects the anger of his mother, our pet “children” reflect how we really feel when we’re not aware of our true feelings and behaviors. If pets are “misbehaving,” our pet pals are most likely telling us that we’re “misbehaving.” We’re out of alignment with our life goals and don’t know it!

Animals see beyond our “I’ve got it all together” outer appearances. They know what’s really going on inside us. Being quite sensitive, it’s easy for animals to know that we’re angry, scared, confused or depressed before we know it. And to inform us, our pet buddies show us what’s going on with our feelings in the only way they have available—through their actions. Behaving in unusual or annoying ways is usually the only means critters have to get our attention.

Animals are in our lives to assist us to have more fun, joy and harmony. When pets are happy, they’re reflecting to us that we’re being successful in living in a way that’s harmonious and nurturing. And when pets are “misbehaving,” our pesky pals are “telling” us that we’re not acting in our own best interest. In a very real way, our pets “r” us.

Here’s an example of how the “pet reflection” works:

Wishbone, a Cocker Spaniel Who “Leaks”

Wishbone is a sweet cocker spaniel who loves people. Unfortunately, this wiggling ball of fur pees uncontrollably when he interacts with people. If people are standing too close when Wishbone greets them, he leaks all over their feet. Thinking Wishbone’s problem is physical, his “mom,” Ann, takes the spaniel to several veterinarians. Wishbone gets a clean bill of health. The cause of the problem is not physiological.

What’s this leaking spaniel reflecting about Ann? In one moment his behavior says, “I’m happy to see you.” The next second he repels people by peeing on them. The spunky spaniel is giving mixed messages to the people he enjoys being with. Wishbone might be reflecting that Ann is giving mixed messages to the people she enjoys being with.

When Ann tells me about “Wishbone’s” problem, the pet reflection becomes clear. On the one hand she praises her pooch saying, “Wishbone’s such a great dog.” In the next breath she reveals her pain and conflict complaining, “I’m so frustrated with him, I don’t know what to do.” Ann is giving me mixed messages! And the more Ann shares with me about the rest of her life, the more mixed messages I hear. It doesn’t take me long to verify that Wishbone is reflecting Ann’s mixed communications. When I’m alone with the spaniel and I’m consistent with my message to him, my feet stay dry. Any time I give him a mixed message, he pees on me. I quickly learn not to say “What a good boy” at the same time I feel upset with him.

Through his contradictory actions, Wishbone is trying to tell Ann that she’s putting out contradictory messages to her world. Also, because Wishbone is unconsciously pushing away people he wants to be with, most likely Ann is unconsciously pushing away people she wants to be with. When I asked Ann about this pattern, she realized that she is inadvertently keeping people at a distance.

Wishbone’ s offering a reflective gift to Ann. He’s demonstrating to her that she’s sending mixed messages to him and other people. He’s showing Ann a way for her to be happier. Since Ann took Wishbone’s reflection to heart and is keeping her emotions more congruent with her actions, her relationships are improving. And to her delight, when she’s consistent with her messages to Wishbone, he doesn’t pee on her!

Our pets offer us a gift. They show us when we’re off course in reaching our life goals. We’ll never get our dreams if we’re out of sync with ourselves. So, it’s up to us to make the changes that will harmonize what we’re feeling and doing. And we’ll know when we’re back on course because our blessed companions will stop their disharmonious behavior!

What’s Your Pet’s Gift for You?

Is your dog nipping at people for no apparent reason? Is your horse or parrot biting you? How about your cat clawing your arm or your furniture? Does your pet hide or run away from you? These signs might be your animal companion’s way of showing you that you’re angry—or afraid.

Sometimes we’re not aware that we’re angry. Many people don’t like feeling out of control when angry feelings rumble through them. We don’t like feeling angry when we’d rather be feeling loving. So, when we get angry, we unconsciously stuff our emotions. If your pet is biting or clawing you, someone else or your furniture, this reflection might indicate that you’re unconsciously angry. Once you find your hidden anger and deal with it, your animal will stop biting or clawing.

At other times we might not realize we’re scared. When we’re afraid, we sometimes unconsciously use harsh, biting words to keep people at a distance. Or, we might unconsciously avoid people we’re afraid of. These actions help us feel safe when we’re scared. If your pet is snarling, biting, hiding or running away, this reflection might indicate that you’re afraid and trying to protect yourself. Rather than “bite” other people or “hide” to make yourself feel secure, you might choose a more conscious and desirable way to protect yourself. And once you feel safe, your animal will stop snarling, biting, hiding or running away!

Don’t Blame the Messenger!

When your spunky pet gets your attention through “misbehaving,” it’s for your highest good! So it’s to your benefit to see the reflection. Your buddy is telling you that you’ve strayed from living in a way that will make you happy.

The next time your pet “misbehaves,” rather than correcting your pet, why not experiment with changing yourself? Then notice what happens. Once you harmonize your own feelings and behavior, your “pet’s” behavior problem will “magically” disappear!