snowball_kittyThe other night I shared at the Northern San Joaquin Veterinary Medical Association’s Annual Meeting a bit about Argh #6  “Cut Off Your Kitty Collars!” from my book, Sealegs for Success Balancing Your Life and Work.

Here’s an adaption of that chapter for you:

“Last year I bought a snowball fluffy white kitten!” That’s how our neighbor, Reggie, began her tale. She’d stopped by for a quick visit on her way home.   She appeared quite agitated and even before she sat down her story began.

“Last year” she exclaimed, “I bought a snowball fluffy white kitten. Then I went down to the pet store and got a cute little red collar for it. It was so sweet and cuddly.” Reggie’s eyes teared up.

“Well, now Snowball’s about a year old,” she continued, “and a couple of weeks ago I noticed that she wasn’t eating very well. This morning I noticed that she wasn’t breathing well either so I took her to the vet just now to see what was wrong.”

The vet began to examine the cat from head to toe.  Then he stopped and without looking up he asked, “Reggie, did you ever put a col…”

“Before he finished his sentence I knew what was wrong and just screamed.” Reggie’s face turned red, “I remembered the kitty collar! I’d forgotten it under all that white fluffy fur.   Now my dear cat was choking to death on its own kitty collar.”

The veterinarian actually had to cut it to get the collar free. Snowball was fine after that, and quickly recovered.

The lesson: kitty collars left on can kill the cat!

The lesson isn’t just for cats though. It is for people too.

The kitty collars that worked well for us as children may be killing us now.

Responses that worked during tough time of childhood like denial, anger, shaming others, dissociation, humor, sarcasm, control and manipulation are no longer needed. We have outgrown them and they are choking us as adults.

Even seemingly good behavior “kitty collars” such as  scholastic achievement, a strong work ethic, and physical strength or beauty that help the child and the teen can end up choking the adult. There are many smart, rich, strong, and physically beautiful adults who are choking on the very things that once promised success.

Ian was an excellent student and was highly educated. He worked in corporate America, was very successful and became quite wealthy. One day when he was in his forties he said to me, “John, I did everything I was supposed to do but I don’t know a (expletives) thing about relationships! Not a (more expletives) thing!”

In that meltdown moment, Ian, was recognizing his “kitty collar” issues and knew something had to change. He wanted to breathe and grow, specifically, in relationships.

If something that used to work doesn’t work anymore it could be a “kitty collar.” If it’s hurting you, take it off. You are now old enough to protect yourself in healthier ways. You can dump those old styles and still be perfectly safe in your work and personal relationships.

Go, Snowball! Go!

Argh #6 Action: Can you think any kitty collars still around your neck? (i.e., beliefs, behaviors, or addictions that you worked when you were younger but are not helping you now).

Click “reply” to respond.