We have a really great cat named Rooster. He’s a scrappy little dude. Outdoors he’s alert; the cat I worry the least about becoming prey to a larger animal.
When he comes into the house he sheds the mantle of mighty warrior. He becomes soft and vulnerable. A friend observed, “It’s clear Rooster has never felt fear in this house. He comes in and his behavior and body language shows how secure he is in the knowledge that he is safe.”
I think that providing that sense of safety to other people should be one of our most important goals. But, I think it would be easy to find people who would say they are never unkind to a pet, that their pets know they have nothing to fear from them. Would as many people be able to say this is true about their relationships with other humans? I’m guessing, no. For some crazy reason people feel obliged or entitled to be harsh with one another.
If you cut people some slack, if you assume they are doing their best, if you realize that it is unlikely they are deciding their behavior based on whether it can screw you up, if you censor yourself and keep from saying the negative thought that crosses your mind, you’ll be less judgmental and people will have a greater sense of being safe in your presence.
Good grief, I know I appreciate people being nonjudgmental with me. There are people in my life who keep me on edge as I try not to draw their disdain. With them I feel unsafe. Then there are people who like me just the way I am. With these people I feel safe. And these are the people who are real friends.
And on the flip side, I want people to know that when they are with me they need not worry that I will judge them, criticize or scold them. I strive to choose my words, so that they do not do damage. I hope that through my behavior I send the message that they can be themselves around me, be vulnerable and yet feel safe.
As I thought about my friend’s comment about little Rooster’s aura of security, I committed myself to striving to make my home a place where others feel what the little furry guy feels. I set the goal for myself to try my best to be kind and to observe my behavior and my words, so I that might correct them when I have erred.
Smile. Be happy. And oh yeah, be kind.
A yellow Smiley Bush says, “Welcome to our home.”