Updated: Aug 15, 2022
Shakespeare has given me a lot of pertinent quotes and ideas throughout my lifetime. His works are not always the easiest to read, but with practice, I do find my understanding of the language improves, which can be said for everything in life. The more you do something, the easier it gets. What I love about Shakespeare is the timelessness of his works and subject matter. Unrequited love, jealousy, frustration, teen rebellion, patriarchy, sibling rivalry, and more. I also love how a quote from one of his works, pops into my mind at the exact moment I need it. Like the title here: To thine own self be true. This quote comes from Hamlet. It popped into my mind after several animal sessions that reminded me that animals have their own sense of purpose along with ideas on how to achieve it.
I know from Little Bear (my beloved dog who passed away, for those just joining my site), that animals also have a need to fulfill their purpose in life. In Finding Joy: A Dog's Tale, Little Bear takes us on his journey to find the meaning of life and his purpose for being here at the time he lived. Why then? Why again? Why? Humans ask ourselves the same questions, but we have a little more control over our lives than domesticated animals. Humans have choices that our domesticated friends do not. They are subject to the whims and decisions of humans. They have to live by human rules, in a human environment, and somehow find peace with that.
Over the past few weeks, I have been blessed with the opportunity to speak to several horses. These horses are very well taken care of and are loved by their humans. They are loved so much, that their humans wanted to hear directly from them what they thought about their lives, lifestyles, and feelings. All horses had similar situations, but had very different feelings about things, showing us once again that not all "insert species" are the same. All animals (humans included) are individuals with their own sense of self, their own likes and dislikes, preferences, sense of humor, and tastes. To assume an animal loves something because that is what we want is doing a huge injustice to that animal.
In one of the sessions, a beautiful mare was so excited to express herself, that she was almost giggling. Dove, or Dovey as she prefers, had very specific opinions about who she was in a past life, who she was now, and who she wanted to be in the next stage of her life. Dovey, remembering her past life as a healer, feels drawn to providing that emotional support in this life. Recovering from an infection, Dovey has enjoyed taking a break from competition and has spent her time figuring out what she likes and what she likes to do. Thankfully, Dovey has a human who loves her for who she is, not for what she can do or how she can perform. When Dovey heard how receptive her human was to her preferences, she really opened up more which made for a fun and interesting session.
In another session, a handsome and strong competitor knew and FELT in his core how strong and virile he is; this horse, named Cujo, knew himself better than most humans I encounter. He is aware of his trophies, recognizes his leadership abilities and role, and embraces his accomplishments with pride and humility. The thing I found most interesting about this aspect of our conversation, was his wanting to bow out while he was still on top. "You have to know when to quit". That awareness of himself as well as how he is viewed by others drove home how important a sense of self and accomplishment are to animals. Having a loving and admiring human on his side made for a great session which showcased their beautiful relationship.
Some animals have been traumatized and need a little more time to adjust to things. Imagine going through a traumatic experience and then being expected to just be "insert animal", and move on. It is not always that easy. This isn't always the fault of the human. Because humans do not speak the same language as other animals and most have forgotten what Little Bear calls "Animal Speak", they do not know what their new companion went through or is feeling. In another session, Archie, a young horse was not performing as his lineage indicated he should. His humans had so much love and respect for him that they wanted to find out "straight from the horse's mouth" what was going on. In a very informative session, Archie was able to express himself and let them know what he needed and wanted. Although he was bred to be a jumper, Archie needed time to adjust to his new home. He had traveled so much and trained so hard at a very young age. He needed to just decompress and emotionally heal, and get used to his new environment and humans. After having the opportunity to be heard, Archie began to relax and soak up the love he craved.
We expect a lot from our animal companions. We want them to live up to our expectations of what they should be, how they should act, and what they should like. When given the opportunity to be heard, it becomes an easier relationship. When humans honor the animal's need to be who they are, the bonds become stronger and more meaningful. Animals give so much more to life; we just have to give them the space to be true to themselves, while giving ourselves permission to do the same.