Life’s disappointments can knock the wind out of the best of us, and sometimes, it seems like we’ll never get over some of the bad things that happen. As humans, our tendency can be to continue to bring up our painful past, rather than working on healing the pain and moving on with our lives.
Cats don’t do this. They live in the moment. They don’t dwell in the past and constantly revisit it, nor do they use the past as an excuse for not being happy in the present. This is particularly evident with cats who were rescued from marginal or abusive circumstances. It is humbling to be loved unconditionally by an animal coming from a rough beginning. While some of these cats may initially be cautious around humans, most of them adjust quickly once they find their forever home and a person who is willing to be patient and allow the bond between cat and human to develop slowly so that it can turn into trust and eventually love. Cats do not allow their early life experiences to define them the way so many humans do.
So why is it so hard for humans to just “get over it?”
Back in 1994, the Eagles released their first single after a 14-year breakup, and it was titled “Get Over It.” I always liked the lyrics, delivered with Don Henley’s trademark sarcasm:
You drag it around like a ball and chain
You wallow in the guilt; you wallow in the pain
You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown
Got your mind in the gutter, bringin’ everybody down
Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass
Get over it
Get over it
All this bitchin’ and moanin’ and pitchin’ a fit
Get over it, get over it
This concept was brought home to me even more dramatically the other day when I was doing Reiki on Fifi, a 17-year-old cat in renal failure. Fifi is my veterinarian’s cat. Dr. Tasi shared some of her background with me: she was 7 yeras old when she was brought to the veterinary clinic where Dr. Tasi worked at the time. She had a spinal tumor, and her hindlegs were paralyzed. Her owner never returned for Fifi, and Dr. Tasi ended up adopting her. Fifi went through several rounds of chemotherapy, and regained function in her legs again. She adjusted beautifully to Dr. Tasi’s multiple cat household. One day, Dr. Tasi decided to consult with an animal communicator for all her cats. As one of her other cats shared his story of a rough background (all of her cats are rescues), Fifi interrupted. The animal communicator relayed that what she was “saying” was clearly “We all have our stories – just get over it!”
I think Fifi may be on to something. While there is certainly value in looking back and understanding how our past impacts our present in terms of preferences, behavior, and emotional challenges, there is a tipping point where prolonged analysis of past wrongs can result in bringing more of the same into our lives. By living in the moment, appreciating the gifts we have in our lives, and letting go of the past, we free ourselves for a better and happier tomorrow. Each moment offers us a choice—to look back at what did not work for us in the past or to look forward and invite the chance for a new beginning and for change toward a happier life.
I think we might do well to take Fifi’s advice.
Photo of Fifi by Andrea Tasi, VMD, used with permission.