The Animal Truth


Do you ever have the experience of imagining yourself through someone else’s eyes, and coming up really, really short?

One of the things I regularly do is watch my mind to see what it is up to. What it is talking about, imagining, or fretting over. Other people typically come up for me whenever I am in the midst of diminishing myself somehow. Recently, I have been saying to myself; “I actually don’t know what is in that person’s mind regarding me, but I sure do know that what I am thinking about right now is in my mind, does not feel good, and is something only I can change.” 

I see this as being one of the most critical things we can do for ourselves, one another, and our relationships together. That being, finding ways to get to the truth about our experience ASAP. Otherwise, we see ourselves through the wrong lens while believing that our misery is caused by how someone else feels about us, felt about us, or might feel about us; a kind of fear-based conditioning that we as people live under and use as a way to keep ourselves in line according to someone else’s standards. Very problematic unto itself.

But it goes even further than that. As mammals, we do have the capacity to sense and to know not only how it feels to be around another, but how they are truly feeling about us; beyond words. This is an essential capacity for all of our interactions with others whether they be ones we welcome or dread. This is the part of us that cannot be deceived or misled with words. Kids are really good at this. So are animals. It is only the adult human who struggles to make sense around how they are being received by a member of their own species.

In order to get better at receiving accurate information during an encounter with another person requires that we clean up our own act first. That we get a handle on where we make up things in our minds out of fear or past conditioning. It requires that we start to listen a little more deeply when we are in the presence of others. More like an animal or a kid would; not through words but through the tone and the feel of it all. Not through our thinking minds, but in an overall body listening kind of way. Easy examples are noticing a turn of the gut, a tension that suddenly comes up, hair rising on the back of your neck, or a general feeling of dis-ease when you are around someone.

This is not easy to do because most of us have gotten out of the habit of listening and responding to this kind of information. Most of us discount those sensations because we cannot prove them, articulate them necessarily, or because it would be ever so socially awkward and inconvenient to act on that knowing. Many of us have even had this innate capacity actively conditioned out of us when we were young by the adults who found that level of truth too threatening and far too inconvenient.

It puts me in mind of something I once read by Anodea Judith where she spoke of when we are told that we have no right to feel what we are feeling or know what we are knowing, a lie about our basic existence gets created and instilled in us. Really take that in. When you refuse, or feel unable, to live and respond from what you instinctively know, you obliterate the truth of not only what is happening, but who you are.

That is what we are really talking about here. How is it that we will live with the truth of who we are, and what it is that we are experiencing, while being in authentic and satisfying relationship with others? This will always be a moment by moment, in the presence of others, kind of experience that cannot be ultimately figured out except in relationship. And except by giving yourself permission, and by taking chances around how it is that you get to respond.