Prevent Your Next Hissy Fit

I recently adopted a cat named Maisie. She's 15 years old, and should be able to make friends easily. She’s bonded with my daughter and me, but is very suspicious of the males in our house, including Bovril, a large male cat.

This is what often happens:

Maisie walks into the kitchen, sees Bovril, and hisses. Bovril chases Maisie out of the kitchen.

Yet other times the cats coexist peacefully: Maisie walks into the kitchen. She finds a nice warm spot and lies down. She purrs. Bovril ignores her and remains contentedly his own warm corner.

So I’ve begun to wonder: Does Maisie’s hiss create the problem? By being defensive, is she creating the space to be attacked?

Day after day, I witness this behavior between two mature cats who should know better but clearly don’t.

So then it gets me thinking: is the Universe trying to tell me something? In what ways am I a Hissy Missy? In what ways are any of us – male or female – throwing needless hissy fits?

Of course, if we're genuinely being attacked, it makes perfect sense to defend ourselves. But if we simply fear a possible attack, our prickly behavior may create the painful reality we are trying to avoid.

Here’s a three-point guide to spot, and stop, the hissing habit: 

1. Spot the hiss. 

Find yourself a quiet time and place, then think of someone who makes you want to hiss. Picture the scene before any action has occurred. Feel the emotions – there’s likely to be a sense that you need to defend yourself.

I recommend you actually hiss. (Go on, it’s very liberating!) Feel the release of highly-charged energy that happens when you hiss. If you enjoy the feeling, be honest with yourself about it. Sometimes we become a Hissy Missy because it’s a habitual – even enjoyable – way to let off steam.

2. Delete the hiss. 

Now replay the same scene in your mind, but without the hiss. Imagine that those defensive feelings are just not there. Imagine that you feel no need to defend yourself, because you are not being attacked. The scene is a peaceful one. Breathe deeply, and enjoy the sense of peace.

If you notice that you're missing the drama of the hiss, ask yourself how you might discharge that same energy in ways that serve you better, such as by practicing yoga, playing music, or dancing. You can also create less need for drama through meditation.

3. Be the peace you wish to see. 

Next time you’re in a potentially hissing situation, notice the defensive feeling as it rises within you and ask yourself this question: What happens if there is no need to defend myself? 

Consciously create a feeling of peace: remind yourself that you are safe, and all is well. Notice how your breathing changes, how the muscles of your face and body relax. Notice how the behavior of others around you changes too, and a genuine sense of calm is able to emerge.

It’s how the Universe works: when we experience peace in ourselves, we also encounter it in those around us.

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