Ever since I was a born I could see suffering in others. I would watch the strain in my childhood dog’s eyes as he lay in the hallway with an intense discomfort in his paw. Like many empathetic children I could not only see suffering but I would actually feel it in my body. In fourth grade a classmate of mine had stomach ulcers; I had to sit across the room from him otherwise my stomach would hurt so badly that I would have to go to the nurse. I remember watching my great grandmother rub her hands. I felt cramping in my fingers. I wondered how playing cards could hurt so much.
My great grandma would never complain. I remember her saying, “Worry. It is useless. If you can do something about it, do it. If not, stop thinking about it.” At the time I thought that was easier said than done. My awareness of others’ suffering became so intense that I found it hard to concentrate in school. When I would look at my teachers I would have visions of their lives at home and I would feel their uncertainty about situations that were too mature for a young child’s mind.
It was not until my late 20s that I learned I knew things about others that sometimes they didn’t even know about themselves. I saw cancer in my friend’s body six months before it was diagnosed. I felt guilty that I had not mentioned it to him. If I had, he may not have become so sick. I’m a shy person by nature. I pretty much keep to myself. This gift (some people call it) comes with an enormous amount of responsibility. I have to decide when it is important to say what I sense, and when I should keep my mouth shut. The animals are perfect outlets in this regard, because through them I can help both animal and human.
For as long as I can remember, it has been dealing with animals that has grounded me. They have given me a break from all the complexities of involvement with other humans. Animals are easy to change. They naturally flow towards joy, whereas humans have a much harder time releasing their past pains. Animals don’t harbor guilt. They rarely have self-destructive thoughts. They never say to or feel about themselves thoughts like “I am ugly” or “I am bad” or “I am stupid.” They never degrade themselves.
They may, however, say to themselves, “My people think I am stupid”, “My people think I am worthless,” or “My people think I am ugly.” We create their issues. All of their issues are from human negligence. I think that this is important for people to know, because we have the power to transform our animals by changing what we think about them. Animals, like many humans, including myself, are empathetic beings. They pick up the thoughts and feelings of others around them. Oftentimes I notice that animals are mirrors of their humans. Aggressive animals have humans who have a hard time communicating. Shy animals have insecure humans. Sick animals have diseased humans.
There is much power in what we think and feel around others, whether we are conscious of it or not. I urge you to become aware of what you are saying and feeling to yourself when you are around your animals. Start noticing whether they are positive feelings and phrases or more negative – and if they are negative, begin to change them.
Begin to have more intentional thoughts. You can, say, picture in your mind and feel in your body concepts like, “I am well. I am brave. I am comfortable around others. I am calm. I am happy. I am fit. I am loving …” If you become consistent in repeating well thoughts, feelings, and images, not only will your sense of peace change but also the people and animals around you will change. They will become happier about themselves when they are in your presence.
There are many of us empathic beings in the world. You may even be one. I can tell you from experience that there is more negativity that drags us down than there is positivity that lifts us up. The way you feel about yourself and they way others feel around you is your own personal choice. Be the confident, healthy, happy person you want others to be. I can assure you, it starts with what you are allowing and creating. If you want to help the animals in your life, you must become more intentional in your thinking. Be well!