On Possums and Pussycats

Monday February 7, 2022

One of my favourite sights is that of a kitten pretending to be bigger than it is. When play-fighting, kittens will fluff out their fur, lift up their tails, and even walk briefly on two legs! Of course, this gets a lot more serious in adult pussycats where the bravado is often the precursor to acts of violence.

Bearded Dragons like to lift up their heads to show a darkened, almost black, ‘beard’ when they feel threatened. They bob their heads about and look bigger than they are. If the other Bearded Dragon decided to capitulate, it will stop bobbing its head, lower the chin, and wave – yes, wave – with one of its front paws.

And then, of course, there is ‘Playing Possum’ – named after the behaviour where Possums play dead to escape a threat. Possums join grass snakes and many other animals in these kinds of behaviours where they act ‘as if’ they were other than they are.

This is my lesson from Nature to myself – and I hope that it is useful for you too. Sometimes, it helps to act ‘as if’ we are other than we feel we are. That’s why I like the word precursor – “a person or thing that comes before another of the same kind; a forerunner.” I believe this fits well with my early blog on taking pre-motivated action.

Alongside Nature, the inspiration for this blog came from something the author, Neil Gaiman, said. He mentioned a friend who thought she would have trouble recording an audio book, so he suggested she pretend that she was someone who could record audio books. She wrote out a sign to that effect, popped it in her studio, and it worked.

I have made many foolish decisions throughout my life. I have made mistakes. I have failed more times than I’ve kept count of. If the assessment of my value to the universe and of my character was based upon an account of these, I fear I would get an ‘F’. But I can pretend to be wise, act as if I am wise, and watch amazing changes unfold.

You, too, can pretend to be brave, act as if you were someone who was brave, and prepare to be amazed.

We all can pretend to be something (and here each of us can insert a characteristic or a strength we’d rather have more of), act as if we were someone with that faculty, ability, talent, or gift, and then notice how our thoughts, feelings, and actions are transformed.

You are not the sum of your experiences – not quite. There’s always time and space for transformation. Unleash your inner kitten and act bigger than you think you are! Make it a game like a kitten does. Acting ‘as if’ is the precursor to enjoying the brave new you!

A Moodscope member.

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