This is one of the four core understandings of Animal Connection and Beyond. The four core understandings have underpinned this site, and my journey, since they came to me at some point in the last decade. In this post I would like to explain/share where I am with this particular one.
Lets begin with this. All animals, except humans, live in a state of vulnerability, and it is their strength. Only humans fear vulnerability and see it as a weakness. In order to fully embrace a relationship of trust with another species of animal, we have to become vulnerable to ourselves, not to them. When we embrace vulnerability, establish our boundaries, and trust that we can respond appropriately to anything that oversteps our boundaries and threatens our peace of mind, then we are trusting ourselves. Only then can an animal trust us.
Being vulnerable does not mean we shouldn’t have boundaries. It means having boundaries that are tuned into your awareness of your own safety, security and peace of mind. If you don’t feel safe, retreat. If you don’t feel secure, retreat. If you are not at peace with what is happening, retreat. Our boundary is the place where you can be completely present, the place where emotions aren’t clouding your ability to see a situation for what it really is.
What being vulnerable isn’t. It is not being ‘brave’. It is not about putting yourself in harms way, and saying ‘Look I can be vulnerable’.
What it is, is turning up as you are, and tuning in to what that is. It is acknowledging your emotions and knowing it is okay to have emotions. It is about knowing that the reaction from the animal you are with is a response to your level of vulnerability, your understanding of your emotions, and your commitment to acknowledging them and finding peace with them.
To be vulnerable you have to feel it all. All your fears, your joy, your sorrow, your love, your needs. And then find peace with each of the emotions as they come up.
When you have done this work on yourself and found connection, felt what ‘love without condition’ feels like, know deep down that feeling is okay, that having boundaries is right, that being vulnerable and trusting yourself is true courage, it is as though somebody turned off gravity and you are free and floating untethered. It is liberating.
As there is always two sides to everything, when you do achieve this, the animals in your care will sense it. Some will deepen their trust of you, but also remember, when you untether yourself, everything also untethers from you and can go into freefall. Behaviours in those around you may come out that you have not seen before.
This is because however free we like to believe the animals in our care are, they are not. We may honor their No, but they do not have the ability to walk away from us completely if we don’t. This is when we have to allow. There will be a period of adjustment as they assess and process this new vulnerable, self trusting, you with appropriate boundaries and responses based in your awareness of yourself and what you are feeling. Give them time.
For example: a dog could sleep for 48 hours as it releases all the reactions it thought it had to have to satisfy your needs and wants. Your horse may suddenly become aggressive, and not want you in their personal space, because it now doesn’t know what else to do in your presence as you stop controlling and start listening. It needs to work out what to do with this new untethered you, how to respond to your vulnerability and work out if it can trust that.
Remember people are animals to. The people in your life will also become untethered from you, although they will remain tethered to their own emotions, learnt thinking patterns and reactions based on past experiences (unless they are aware too). By untethering them you are giving the piece of them that was attached to you, back to themselves. You are taking responsibility for your own emotions and you are asking them to do the same. They will feel that something has changed and their reactions could range from anger, rejection, confusion, & fear, to relief, happiness and a deeper sense of connection.
As with the animals in our care, these reactions or responses have to be allowed to run their course with no attachment to outcome, no expectation, and no judgement. Just know that everything happens as it should.
“Becoming untethered brings the freedom to fly wherever you are meant to go”
If you are in a place where you know something needs to change between you and your animal, but you are not sure what might happen if you let go of the control and replace it with a relationship based in trust, come and join our Explorer, Learner or Participant Membership CLubs. They are set up to support you as you go through a process of working out who you want to be to yourself, and those around you.
Our Explorer Membership is free and enables you to just explore and feel your way around the group to see if you want to go deeper into your learning with our support.