Sunday, April 11, 2010

Do I Think Like a Cat?

Our neighbour's cat somehow found an entry into their attic, and crawled out into their soffits, which had to be dismantled to let her out. I was chatting to our neighbour about the fact that cats, once having gotten themselves into this sort of situation, never seem willing to retrace their steps - panic drives them to a mindset where they are only willing to on, they utterly refuse to go back. This is why we gets cats stuck in trees, I'm sure of it.

They get to a point in the tree, decide they've gone too high for their comfort level, and instead of deciding to climb down, feel compelled to climb further up - it's a cat rule.

I was thinking about this tonight, My ex had a "might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb" rationalisation; it wasn't until I was exposed to program, that I began to question the thinking. I heard that phrase all the time growing up - it seemed to suggest that once one had made a small mistake, all was lost, so why not deliberately continue to a major screwup, and have the pleasure of it?

From today's viewpoint, that's pretty wierd. It's that black and white thinking again - I'm either perfect, or I'm a disaster - no ground in between. Once my perfection is shaken, I am nothing.

My spouse is one of the first people I ever heard say, "It was just a mistake," when I'd be berating myself aloud.

Just a mistake? That seemed awfully...accepting. I wasn't sure how one could go about qualifying life, if we took mistakes in stride as a part of daily routine. Why, standards would collapse! Who would we blame?

From the ODAT, page 102:

"If we can recognise and admit our own shortcomings with increasing honesty, it opens the door to a new world for us..."

I still find it miraculous that Al-Anon makes this possible. Mistakes without shame. Confession without blame.


  1. Love this Cheryl. A wonderful illustration.

  2. I have been like that cat. I am glad Alanon offered me an exit! I love this.


  3. Miraculous indeed! I've never heard that expression, but I'm a little too familiar with the thinking. Thanks.

  4. If we keep doing the same thing, we'll get the same results. Hopefully, our program helps us to do better in that regard than our pets!

  5. Great post...a balm to perfectionists everywhere! Loved the last line :) :)


  6. When Love Is Not EnoughApril 12, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    What a great analogy, Cheryl. Thank you for sharing! I'm not sure if you've seen anything about the movie about Lois Wilson, co-founder of Al-Anon. Hallmark Hall of Fame will feature it on April 25, but there is a Facebook page if you're interested in seeing behind-the-scenes footage - or even sharing your insights like this one to the Facebook group. Here's a link to the page:

    Thanks again for the great post!

  7. I agree with your husband that it is just a mistake. I understand that now and don't beat myself nearly as much as I used to or for as long. I recognize my humanness.