Recently, we got a new orange kitten. We call him “Mellow Yellow,” like the old Donovan song.
They call me Mellow Yellow…
Like most kittens, Mellow is incredibly happy, playful and affectionate. And now that he’s with us, he’s in kitty heaven!
But Mellow was born homeless, and spent the first few months of his life in a cage in a “high kill” shelter. He was just about to run out of time… but fortunately, he got rescued, then lived in a cage in his rescuer’s living room for another month. This beautiful little creature who loves to run, jump, climb and be petted only got about ten minutes a day to do those things. The rest of the time, he was stuck in feline jail.
Now, if you or I had lived through that kind of childhood, we might have come to all kinds of conclusions about what it meant about us. Deep inside, we might tell ourselves stories like these:
“I must have deserved those bad things.”
“God must hate me – otherwise, why would that have happened to me?”
“I can’t trust happiness, because what if it gets taken away again?”
Fortunately for Mellow, he’s a cat, not a person, so he doesn’t seem to suffer from self-esteem issues or philosophical angst. Instead, he revels in his good fortune. Recently he discovered the joy of belly rubs. Now he wants them every day!
It’s a lot more complicated being a person than a cat, and part of the reason is that people have brains that make meaning out of things. That’s a pretty amazing skill to have, but sometimes our brains make the wrong meanings – and that keeps us stuck in old patterns.
Specifically, it can keep us single even when we don’t want to be.
It can also lead us to choose the wrong partners, to stay in unhappy relationships, or even to block ourselves from receiving real love.
Fortunately, brain science has shown clearly that we can create new neural pathways by thinking new thoughts. The more we think those new things, the easier it will be to think them, and the more our lives will change.
If Mellow Yellow needed help reprogramming his thoughts, the new thoughts might go something like this:
“I must have deserved to be rescued.”
“God must love me – otherwise, why would I be getting all these belly rubs?”
“I’m going to enjoy every second of this happiness!”
Perhaps in some way you can relate to Mellow’s story. Like him, you probably didn’t get what you needed or wanted as a kitten… or as a kid.
It’s human to make meaning out of what has happened to us. Yet by changing the stories we tell about ourselves, we can change our lives.