Sealegs for Success: 21 Awesome Arghs for Balancing Your Life and Work!
Arghuably, the World’s Greatest Book on Arghing! Get your Sealegs me hearties! Read aloud by the industrial-strength Sealegger himself—Arghmaster John Parker!
Finally, Cap’n John’s life-changing book is here in audio!
Cut Off Your Kitty Collars! And Breathe!
“Last year I bought a fluffy, snow-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, began to tell her story.
“Last year” she exclaimed, “I bought a white kitten and named her Snowball. Then I went down to the pet store and got a cute little red collar for her. She 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.”
She explained that the vet began to examine the cat from head to toe. Then he went back to the neck and felt it more thoroughly. 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 I screamed.” Reggie was turning red as she went on to explain, “I remembered the kitty collar! I’d forgotten it under all that white fluffy fur, and realized at that moment that my dear cat was choking to death on its own kitty collar.”
The story has a happy ending, with a bit of grossness thrown in. The gross part is that some of the cat’s skin had grown around the collar. The veterinarian actually had to cut the skin to get the collar free.
The good news is that Snowball was quickly recovered from her ordeal. The lesson is this: kitty collars left on can kill the cat! The lesson isn’t just for cats though; it is for people too.
When we were young we may have developed some coping strategies to decorate or protect ourselves like the kitty collar, but the kitty collars that worked well for us as children may be killing us now.
Gene was either ignored or tormented by family members as a child. He used humor when he was growing up to get attention and divert the anger of his family members. As an adult, he missed several promotions, unbeknownst to him, not because he lacks technical skills, but because of his loose-cannon humor and his out-of-control mouth.
As a young girl Betty had an older sister who excelled at everything. Betty used self-pity and whining and tattling to get some attention for herself. It worked, in a way. Unfortunately, as an adult, she is still competing using the negative tools of her childhood. She, too, has missed opportunities that she could have had, if she hadn’t still been shackled with her childhood styles.
Taught by his unkind father and rough brothers, little George used his mean mouth and his fast fists to intimidate other kids. He was the leader of his gang at school. But as an adult, he was fired from the job he loved because he lost his temper and threw some furniture around, along with some very inappropriate words about his boss.
Gene, Betty, and George all outgrew their kitty collars but forgot to get them taken off. As adults, they choked, but they can still remove them. If they will allow themselves to be vulnerable, take responsibility, and talk with someone trustworthy, they will be able to move on and prosper.
Responses that worked during tough times of childhood like denial, anger, shaming others, dissociation, humor, sarcasm, control and manipulation are no longer needed or helpful in our adulthood. We have outgrown them, and they are choking us to death.
Even seemingly good behaviors—kitty collars such as excellent scholastic achievement, a strong work ethic, 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 unhappy and dysfunctional, choking on the very things that once promised success.
Ian was an excellent student and was highly educated. He worked for a large corporation, 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 (expletive) thing about relationships! Not a (more expletives) thing!”
In that meltdown moment, Ian recognized and confessed his kitty collar choking issues; he knew something had to change. He was identifying where he wanted to breathe and grow: specifically, in relationships.
If a strategy that used to work doesn’t work for you 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 Reflections:
- Can you think of any kitty collars still around your neck? (i.e., beliefs, behaviors, or addictions that worked for you when you were younger, but are not helping you now)
- How did they help, back then?
- How are they hurting now?
- What would you like to do about them?
- What new behavior can you adopt to replace the old one?