Mutual Regard creates Respect

This is the third understanding of Animal Connection and Beyond.

You will be regarded and respected by others if you love yourself (Understanding 1), if you are vulnerable to your feelings (Understanding 2), and if you take responsibility for your own boundaries and honour the No.

You will regard and respect others who love themselves, know how to feel and communicate their feelings, take responsibility for their own boundaries, and know how to say No politely and firmly.

Seeing and feeling the No with an animal is one of the most difficult things for us, the human species, because we have little or no respect for the No. How did we get here? It comes mostly from hearing the word No so much in our childhood that it has no meaning anymore. We block it. We ignore it. We tell ourselves it can’t be right and continue doing what we were doing, assuming a Yes.

When we have had our No ignored to a large extent, we stop saying No. Other behaviours start to come out instead. In humans it can look like ignoring, submitting, getting angry, resignation. In our animals it can be shutting down, freezing you out, biting, kicking, growling, running away as soon as the opportunity arises. Ever had that moment when you take the head collar off and the horse just runs off?

These two donkeys (Anah & Astuce) taught me a lot about honoring the No, being patient and persistent, and helped me teach their humans too. Now they will accept a head collar and hoof trims because their No was honoured. The people who are honoring the No, their guardians, are the ones consistently being respected, and loved unconditionally.

Pushing someones boundaries by not honoring the No is disrespectful. Having your boundaries pushed or ignored and your own No not honored gives a feeling of not being respected. Submitting to this, whatever animal you are, when you start to feel it all, and acknowledge your feelings, allow yourself to feel, this submission feels like you are abandoning yourself.

To honour the No, you have to learn to regard. To watch, and to listen. An animal shouldn’t have to move to say No. If you come into the yard / pasture, and your horse doesn’t turn his head towards you, it is not because it doesn’t know you are there. It knows exactly where you are and what you are feeling / what your intentions are. It just does not want to engage at that moment in time.

If a No should ever be dishonoured it is only when there is a health and wellbeing need. Even then we should honour how the animal feels as much as possible, and provide comfort and reassurance (not sympathy).

If a child breaks his arm you are not going to honor the No when the child doesn’t want the doctor to touch them because it hurts. But, if your child doesn’t want it’s hair brushed why can’t we honor the No? What fears are we sharing when we dishonour that No?

Can we regard our animal at all times from a place of presence, honor every No and be grateful for every Yes. It is something I am striving towards. I have a way to go yet but thats okay. I am finding more and more that when I honor the No, and I acknowledge what feelings I am bringing when I get a No, my relationship with the horses is changing. It can be a painful process. Honouring No means acknowledging your own need for a Yes and letting that go.

I am also finding that as I learn to say No through my feelings, by going completely present and not having any thoughts or emotions, basically shutting down any invitation into my space, my No is respected by the horses.

The first time I tried this out with Timmy (who was teaching me how to say No, by biting me when I got it wrong, and was teaching me how to be responsible for my own boundaries), Timmy just quietly walked away. Since then he hasn’t bitten me, lunged at me, or moved towards me with aggression. He asks for scratches slowly and doesn’t demand. I try not to touch any of the horses now without asking first and between us we have created a mutual respect about personal space. Sometimes we get it wrong but most days we are okay. It takes practice to change years of habit of walking past a horse and just touching.

To love yourself unconditionally is to be vulnerable to your feelings and continually regard yourself and your behaviours, changing what isn’t making you feel at peace and connected. We are the only species that doesn’t do this naturally. Our domesticated animals and our dependants learn how not to regard our needs by seeing how we disregard ourselves first, and then they copy and learn how to disregard us.

When we come into ourselves we can regard anything and always ask ourselves how what we are regarding makes us feel. Acknowledge the feeling. Understand whether you are reacting to or responding to what you are regarding. Change if necessary. If your reaction is not peaceful it needs some consideration.

When we feel at peace with what we are regarding, then we can help another animal/human find peace. We can support and allow the behaviour, understand and sense the feeling, and support a process of releasing trauma by creating a space of peace, and regarding respectfully, without bringing our own emotion or feeling to a situation.

If you would like to learn how to regard your animal, how to see the No, or would like to chat about why your animal behaves in a certain way, join our Explorers Membership Club where you can ask us questions at chats and webinars. When you feel ready you can upgrade to our Learners or Participants Membership where we provide group and one on one support for you as you take your steps on your own individual journey.

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