3 Life lessons from my cat
Updated: Oct 2
Throughout my journey through becoming a coach and being a coach, I have attended many trainings, and I studied different approaches, from hypnotherapy, psychology to mindfulness. One teacher I did not expect was my cat, however she’s one of the greatest I’ve had.
Here are 3 key life lessons that I have learned through her. Please let me share some cat wisdom with you.
1 — Unconditional worthiness
My cat, Wala, is a rescue. She was found in a bin when she was but 1 day old. She’s a tabby moggy, like millions of other cats. There’s nothing special about her. And yet, she acts as if she’s royalty and the world was made for her pleasure, and quite right, too.
Wala has no concept of unworthiness. She is very secure of her place in the world and she has no doubt that she is owed everything she has, and that everything she has is her rightful due.
We often talk with my executive coaching clients, about being their “best self” or the “best version of themselves”. Wala has no such concern. She just is, and that is — there just isn’t any other alternative — the best version of who she can be. She’s just being herself, who else could she be?
The way I’m describing her, you might think that she’s self-absorbed, and that were she a human, she would be an entitled brat. That is quite possibly true. But her unconditional acceptance of who she is, and acknowledgement that who she is is who she’s supposed to be is actually quite healthy, and, as a cat, perfectly normal.
Her kingdom includes my flat and the building corridor that she likes to inspect every now and then. Food is served at regular times, litter box is maintained in a satisfying state of cleanliness, comfort and entertainment are there for her to enjoy; that is her world and she accepts it. She does not waste one minute contemplating whether she’s a good enough cat to have all of this for her. She takes what is offered.
How freeing it must be to be her and have every possible confidence in her worth, enjoy everything she has and everything she is.
No self-doubt, no low self-esteem, the picture of mental health.
How worthy do you feel? What judgments do you make about yourself that are holding you back from appreciating just how worthy you are?
2 — Unconditional appreciation and gratitude
So yes, she takes a lot. But for all her entitlement, Wala also gives a lot and she is full of gratitude.
Some people say that cats are ungrateful, unloving creatures, but anyone who has a bond with a cat knows that’s not true. Cats do love, quite deeply, and show it, in their own cat way. When her food is served, you’d think she’s never seen food before, she looks at it with such eagerness you wouldn’t think there was leftover from her previous meal in her bowl.
She’s enjoying every minute of the experience of food, of the anticipation of food. It has become a ritual, where we both have specific roles to play and specific tasks to do in a specific order. Sometimes, she’s asking for food just for the sake of the ritual and she’s not even hungry.
She has a capacity to be in the present moment and thoroughly enjoy what is there to enjoy.
She spends a — very — large chunk of her time dozing in her favorite spot (the pile of blankets in the cupboard) and it is new every day. Every day she plays at discovering it, exploring the smells and the sensations all over again before settling in. She comes in and out of it with a playfulness that does not fade with time.
She is enjoying her life, it is so obvious it is hard not to be contaminated by the joy she has for her own world. It is small, and she doesn’t care, it is hers. She’s enough, it’s enough. She’s claimed it as her own.
She will not hold a grudge either when she’s experiencing unpleasant situations.
She hates vet visits, she makes it very clear that she does not want to go and when we’re there that she does not want to stay. In those moments, I feel like the most horrible human who ever cared for a cat for putting her through this ordeal. But she is quick to forgive and forget once returned to her beloved environment. Everything instantly goes back to normal, appreciating being back and the safety and comfort that she finds in being home.
She’s constantly basking in appreciation and gratitude for her environment, for her experiences. And whenever a bad experience occurs, she’s quick to move past it as soon as it is over. She recovers from her vet visits faster than me, and I’m not the one who got the jab!
She’s taught me to enjoy those little rituals with her, to cherish the holy pile of blankets and hide and seek games.
With my clients, we work on breathing to help experience the present moment more. I wonder if purring has a similar impact to cats. A soothing balanced frequency to remind ourselves and those near us that we’re OK.
Look for those perfect little moments in your life and appreciate them, like you’re discovering them for the first time, like they are precious beyond measure and you cherish every single second of it. Be thankful for them, and then let them go.
3 — Assertiveness
Last but not least, she knows what she wants. And she’s not afraid to ask for it.
She doesn’t care that she already had dinner, if she wants more, she’ll ask for it, from such a place of purity and “havingness” that you cannot doubt the genuineness and innocence of her demand. She’s asking for it because she wants it, and it does not occur to her that the world might not provide for her need, that she might not be worthy of asking for this 2nd dinner. She’s not even aware of the concept that there is such a rule that there is only 1 dinner to be had per day. Of course, the world does not always provide what she asks for, and it does not stop her from asking again for what she wants, for expressing herself.
There is no fear in her asking, no manipulation, just an expression of need emerging from what she knows is her desire.
She expresses her desire in the same way she expresses her love, some humans she likes, some humans she doesn’t, and she’s not afraid to let you know in which box you sit.
We do not speak the same language, we do not have the same level of consciousness, we do not have the same framework of experiencing life, the world and each other. It does not in any way impact her ability to communicate her feelings and desires, in her own authentic cat way, to give and receive.
How are you to listen to your needs and to ask for what you want? My clients often tell me they stop themselves, thinking their want is already clear enough or that they will not get it, in doing so however, they never express what they’d like to happen.
Ask for what you need the same way a cat requires humans to hold the door for them while they decide whether they want to stay in or go out.
Funnily enough, these 3 crucial things are topics that come up all the time in conversations with my clients:
Appreciating what we have
Being able to ask for what we want — and to know it too.
Observing her showed me that it really is an inner work. It is about what I’m allowing from myself and for myself. Who can you learn from in your own life?