Fourth Habit: Shake it off Like a Cat

The Fourth Habit that brings our heart back in charge is shake it off like a cat. When I was a teenager, I saw a young tomcat get caught up in a friend’s feet. My friend was in a big hurry, moving way too fast in his house. His cat got tangled up in his feet and slammed hard against a wall.

The cat’s reaction to being kicked into a wall was incredible. He got up, glared at him for a micro-second. If looks could kill, that micro-second would have given my friend a heart attack. But then he shook it off, and walked away as though that never happened. No limping. No favoring the trauma. Only one second elapsed and the cat had already put the trauma behind him.

For a cat, the past is past. It was like ancient history, even though it only happened a few seconds ago. I have come to understand that cats who spend much of their time outside live fully in the present moment. 

They are not like dogs or people who linger in self-pity by limping, gimping, or favoring an injury. With their consciousness focused laser-like in the present moment, cats do not squander their life force by allowing their precious attention to dwell on injuries of the past.

The world of cats is fascinating. Cats who spend their time out of doors are like psychic kung fu masters. They heal very fast. Their focus is on reflecting the highest quality of being a cat.

When you shake off any trauma—whether it’s physical, mental, emotional or a traumatic event that shatters deeply held values or beliefs—and walk away like that never happened—you bring your attention back to the present moment. You are reflecting the highest quality of a spiritual being living in a human body. You move like you are the hero of your own story. 

Winston Churchill once said about politics, “Success is going from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Politically, that’s shaking it off like a cat.

Emotional traumas, traumatic events that shake our faith in humanity or our spiritual faith, traumas to our values, beliefs or principles all need to be shaken off the way your cat would. Dogs teach us how to love. Cats teach us how to live in the present moment.

After a physical injury, you are often battered and bruised. It may be impossible not to limp or favor the injury. But, as soon as humanly possible, you need to walk away from all your traumas in perfect posture, breathing out strong and feeling all your feelings.

Right after an injury, you may have to make smaller movements or walk slower than normal to keep from limping or favoring the injury. As your body learns to trust you—and you must earn your body’s trust—it will give back your full range of motion and speed of movement much sooner than you would imagine. You heal much faster when you do not favor injuries in any way.

Favoring an injury sets up aberrant neuro-emotional feedback loops that are considerably more detrimental to your health than the original injury. Remember, your body has fifteen powerful circulatory systems that flow vertically up and down your body. Limping or favoring injuries causes all kinds of long-term secondary problems that old age usually gets blamed for. 

Age is meant to empower you.

Excerpted from Body Intelligence, A New Paradigm by John L. Mayfield, D.C.