For those of you who know me, I have spent a good portion of my life terrified of cats. I would go so far as to say I had a cat phobia. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it. Who is afraid of a cat? Me. Well, I was. I’m working on it! But to be completely honest there is a bit inside of me that is still a little ‘unsure’ when I’m around certain cats. However, for the most part, I would suggest that my family and close friends have seen a transformation in me when it comes to cats and fear.
As a little girl, I loved cats.
I had a white cat that I remember carrying it around like a baby. I loved that cat. However, sadly, growing up on a farm, not all cats are, and not all cats have nine lives. My white cat disappeared, and I was left with what we hastily refer to a barn or farm cats. They aren’t lovely cats, they hiss at you, jump at you and carry on in a way that does become scary. These cats coupled with my mother and her fear indeed found itself well within my psyche. I became terrified of cats and lived with that fear for most of my life.
I’ll give you an idea of how scared I was. If friends had cats, I wouldn’t go to their house unless they promised they would lock them away. NO ONE would decide it was time to get me ‘over my fear’. I remember a time when Philip and I were travelling in Thailand, and there were cats around the restaurant. I ended up yelling and carrying on like a wild animal myself. Fear had taken over, and I could hardly string a sentence together. My palms were sweating, my heart racing and I was a visible wreck. With panic and tears streaming down my face Philip had to skillfully get me out of the (outdoor, hence the reason there were cats around) restaurant.
I have ended up on top of friends kitchen islands to escape feline advances or what I deemed attacks. I have been on high alert for most of my life, looking around every corner and pot plant for cats. Strange, I know but you have to understand that in my mind I never saw cats, I saw roaring lions and these crafty, sneaky animals that were plotting their attack on me with every sideways glance. That’s what a phobia is.
Where did it all change for me?
I decided that I couldn’t talk to people about being their ‘True You’ and step out of lies they’ve believed about themselves and into freedom if I was living bound by fear in this area of my life. In fact, within the pages of True You I share about how one of my beautiful mentors, Susanna Bateman, encouraged me to push through this, to face my fear.
I was the one telling my kids they were brave, they didn’t have to fear life or anything, that they could go for it. Meanwhile, back in my corner believing all of that and for the most part, living it, throw a cat into the mix and I was over! I didn’t want to be that mum anymore.
So, from a place of knowing that I spent too much time worrying about cats and fearing what could happen – none of it ever did. Being free from fear feels good. When I faced my fear, I was once again reminded of my love for cats, no longer fear my feline friend. I remember sitting in my girlfriend Suzie’s home in LA (you’ll read about her in the book a section titled ‘Find Your Suzie’) holding her cat and now tears streaming down my face, reminding me of how much I loved my sweet white cat and the joy that it brought me as an innocent little farm girl.
How I stepped over the chasm of fear:
- I had to challenge my inner narrative. Remembering to remind myself of the simple truth; that fear is merely false expectations appearing real. My fear wasn’t founded in anything. Outside of those nasty barn/farm cats, I had never been attacked nor had any of the other wild and crazy thoughts I’d had about cats ever come to pass. I had to change my thinking and the story of fear that I was telling myself.
2. I made a plan. I didn’t go out and find a random cat to help me walk this out; instead, I shared my truth with a trusted friend. Thankfully she had a cat, and with her, I made a plan of how I would embrace this change. I trusted her completely, and she was kind, supportive and gentle with me. She never pushed me beyond what I could manage, and she was with me every step of the way.
Whatever your fear is, it’s right to say that fear indeed robs us of living fully free. I’m interested to hear from you about how you have overcome your fear. We all have a story, we’ve all spent time in fear so, if you feel comfortable please share. We never know who be encouraged by our truth.