When Everyone Around You Is a Jerk (Lessons From a Cat-Whisperer)

This morning, I went for a walk as I do each day – but this time, with my cat.

And not on my shoulder, as normal.

No, this time, Funky traipsed beside me all the way, just as if he were a puppy.

You might be a dog person rather than a cat person, but stay with me: I’m making a point that goes beyond pets, and there’s a very practical trick in here, that I SO hope you’ll use.

Or a question, rather than a trick – IF you dare to ask it.

Here goes.

There’s a saying that if everyone you meet is a jerk, the actual jerk is you.

It’s easy to pass blame, to point the finger. To make other people wrong.

But if you do that – always finding fault outside yourself instead of sucking it up and admitting that you’re being the one at fault, you won’t live a very happy life.

Not that I’m any better of course – there are times I also fall into the trap.

But the other day I discovered a trick – an attitude, rather – that helped me stop it, and it gave instant, and freakishly impressive results.

I’ve always been good with cats. Had many, knew how to train them (or rather: befriend them) despite cats having a very tricky psyche. They’re not like dogs.

I like to joke that I’m a cat-whisperer, but really I’m good with them.

Rescued a stray once, which took a long time and a lot of patience, but he – SmokieBowie – turned into one of the sweetest creatures you can imagine.

But this new one, 9 months old, had been a complete and utter jerk lately, and nothing I tried seemed to work.

Biting and scratching me, destroying things in the house… completely insufferable.

And I got more and more annoyed – angry, even.

I was already looking for a new home for him – one with a garden, because this one was a real wild one when I got him, and living in an apartment was clearly the problem.

Cat wants to get out, right? Best find him a new home where he can.

But then I stopped and looked at myself.

Yes, I too look in the mirror.

And I wondered: is this what a Lover would do?

Not a lover in the normal interpersonal sense, but a Lover, the way a Sufi is a Lover, in Love with his god.

And I realised I had been the jerk. It was me who had been pointing the finger.

So the first thing I did was to change my reactions. Instead of growling at him or tapping him on the nose, I simply started ignoring him.

Didn’t allow him to sit with me, or even on the sofa, and he was devastated, sulking through the house. Definitely sad.

And then I figured: why not let him outside then? I’ll have to open the door for him, but why not? If he wants to… is that so much trouble? Obviously, he was thrilled.

And this morning he followed me, faithful and near. Totally happy.

Just because I discarded all blame, and looked exclusively at my own behaviour.

So there’s the lesson: whenever you’re upset with someone, when you’re surrounded by jerks, or when you’re blaming someone else…

Ask yourself: what would a lover do?

What would love say?

What would you do if you acted out of love, instead of blame?

Try it.

Your life will change. And your cat might join you for a walk.



Also published on Medium.

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