Another Friday, another kitten analogy, here we go!
(this one might make more sense with a puppy, so I’ll let you choose which baby animal you want to imagine for this analogy. I’m still going to use kittens though because I’m on a roll)
What happens if you ignore a kitten (or puppy)?
Does it entertain itself and leave you be? Does it sleep peacefully?
Haha, nope! If you ignore a kitten (or puppy), it will climb your curtains, tear up your tissue box, and find other mischievous ways to make its presence known. It will meow (or bark) “PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
What happens if you pat the kitten on the head, and halfheartedly dangle a toy in front of it?
The kitten will be appeased, for now. It may nap for a bit, before it decides to eat some string and turn your sock into a toy.
What happens if you fully engage with the kitten? You focus only on playing with the kitten, uninterrupted, for 15 minutes. You run the kitten up and down your apartment, wearing it out, and then shower it with kisses and snuggles.
The kitten will be satisfied, and will leave you in peace for the rest of the day.
The kitten is an analogy for your emotions. No matter how much you push them down, they’ll still seep out and destroy things in the process. You can’t just make the kitten disappear, because the kitten is part of your family. You can’t choose to love the kitten only when it’s convenient for you, just as you can’t expect to only feel happiness all of the time.
So then, how do we deal with our rascally kitten/emotions that are desperately crying out to be heard?
You fully engage with them, just like you would fully engage with a kitten to make it take a nap and stop knocking things off your desk.
As it is when playing with a kitten, sometimes it can be painful. You may get some claws in your leg while the kitten climbs you like a tree, and you may get some playful bites on your hand. The pain is the hard part. To fully engage with your emotions requires some degree of pain, which is why we are so reluctant to pay attention to them.
The kitten won’t be satisfied until you do engage with it. And just as you would unconditionally love and accept a real kitten, you should unconditionally accept your emotions too. Occasional poops on the floor and scratched up furniture is part of the trade off to get purry cuddles from a lovable kitten, just as sadness and anger are part of the package that comes with happiness
Sadness and anger can be a gift.They are a warning bell that lets us know when something is wrong and when changes need to be made. Even if it hurts to listen to the warning bell, we shouldn’t neglect it because it brings us pain. These important emotions are trying to protect us from more pain in the future.
I hope picturing your emotions as a lovable kitten will help you embrace them, and give you the courage to listen to warning bells and face your problems head on.