What mean little animals we can be at times! Ego puffed feathers and all. Being dismissive, arrogant and disrespectful of one another. For what? Because of fear? Feeling threatened? Or simply to enjoy moments of ego boosting satisfaction of having put someone down and stepping on their necks verbally with a smile?
But of course, this is what we do as humans, everything and anything animals do but in much less direct and honest ways. We attack when we feel threatened or when we feel powerful enough to have some fun and play with a perceived weaker animal. Our hunger and addiction to feeling powerful drives us in a state of constant nail sharpening to scratch that Oh! So tempting itch!
We see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear as long as it fits with our favorite preconceived scenarios or mental schemas. Our attention is trained to notice and grasp what are either our most favorite themes or our most sensitive red buttons. The ever lasting binary dance of pleasure versus pain, safety versus threat, vital elements of the survival of any species.
It is interesting really to watch and observe how we interact with other people. When there is no fear, inferiority complex or low self esteem, when we do not feel threatened and enticed to show our teeth, or in a feline mood to play with perceived mice, we can share and learn from each other. We can be open, receptive, honest, authentic and relaxed.
In the opposite case, we get into the dance of predator versus prey which can range from ‘play’ to literal attack. Feather puffing or empowered body stance may translate into flaunting titles, position of authority, experience, or simply our best physical attributes. Basically what we are communicating is: “ Do you know who I am? Here, I will show you!”
Clawing and biting may translate into dismissiveness, belittling, criticizing, bullying or even negative comments. Usually the result of perceived offense, attack or belittling which render us defensive and cause us to get on the counterattack. “ How dare you think or say X,Y,Z thing of me? Take that!”
Trampling may translate into poorly thought reactions triggered by fear of loss, being attacked, questioned or ridiculed. There is no end to the analogies one can draw from our co-beings in the animal world. “ Do not get into my field! Don’t take my food! Go away!”
Yes, it sounds kind of funny, but this is exactly what we do and are like. Little animals in human bodies. Be it for survival, mating or play. The really sad part is when our reactions involve weapons that cut short innocent lives, when the aggression becomes physical and our thought processes irrational.
When we digress into our more primitive mind and get stuck there.
The even more interesting part is that even though we may be aware of what we are doing and the mechanisms involved, we still keep on behaving in those unproductive ways despite it all. From the educated University Professor with an IQ of 150 to the uneducated redneck, the successful ship owner, the greatest lawyer, most talented artist, skilled surgeon, insightful therapist, compassionate energy worker, the list goes on and is ever inclusive.
Nobody can escape our animal nature, our human nature others might say. We are all affected by it to a greater or lesser degree, with the wisest and most enlightened ones amongst us hopefully being less prone to its manifestations. It is just the way it is. Should we beat ourselves over it? Would it change a thing? Or is it better to accept it as part of our nature and learn how to tame it to our benefit?
One thing that this realization could possibly bring about is more humility and compassion. Knowing that deep down we are but animals with a more complex brain, consciousness and language and that we are still governed by our primitive reptilian brain in too many respects to be too arrogant about our superiority, might be a useful wake up call.
When two humans meet and exchange verbal arrows, weighing each other out it might be a good idea to do a self check and ask ourselves: “ Is what I am saying to this person true and useful?”, or “ Where am I coming from saying this or replying to that?” or “ Why did I just say that?”, “ What made me react this way to this? What was the driving force behind my words?”, “ Did I come from a good willing, positive basis, or did I come from an antagonistic or aggressive/defensive one?”.
Do we really listen and understand what the other person is saying? Or do we hear what we think they are saying? Through what kind of filters do their words go through to reach our conscious and subconscious mind? Our self esteem filter? Our various safety filters? From physical safety, to professional, family, relationship, to financial or status safety? Our need for acknowledgment filter? Our need to be loved and accepted filter? Our need to feel approved of and admired filter?How distorted do their words come to the other end?
Being aware and mindful can help a lot improve our communication abilities and quality. No level of education, training, natural talents are relevant here. It has all to do with the state of mind we chose to be in when we are interacting with the world around us. With what we value and what we want most to achieve. With our philosophy of life, the way we feel about other people, our relationships, yet most of all it has everything to do with how we feel about ourselves.
If we do not feel good in our own skin, if we have a poor sense of self and self esteem, if we live in constant fear, feeling threatened or needing to prove ourselves, there is no way we are going to be able to reach the necessary sense of peace required to live a non reactive life. We are going to react to the world more from our little animal inside than the supposedly more evolved human.
Is this good, bad or indifferent? It depends whom you ask. If you ask the recipient of your reactive behavior, they might say “ This was so unnecessary, hurtful and uncalled for”. If we ask you -provided that you are aware of it- you might say “ Darn it! I wish I could control my tongue better and communicate more efficiently”.
Being in tune with our little animal inside can be a lot of fun as it brings us in touch with our spontaneous, playful self. It puts us in tune with our intuitive self, our sensory system, enhances pleasure and satisfaction, releases all those feel good hormones and so on. This is why it feels so good to feel animal. It releases us from the tyranny of our conscious mind, frees our vital force.
The thing is that to achieve a balance and a positive outcome, we need to pay attention, be aware and come from a basis of love and compassion. Educate and train ourselves until we do not need to pay attention anymore. Until it becomes second nature, who we really are, hopefully a more evolved human.