Transcript from a meeting with Jim Eaton on 12 November, 2020
Q: Hi Jim. I have to show you . . . (Q has puppy on lap) This is Oscar.
Jim: Ah, welcome Oscar!
Q: I got Oscar about a week ago, and it’s been tough! Even though I’ve had a dog before—I had Phoenix for 15 years, and he passed away last year—I suddenly feel like I don’t actually know anything about dogs anymore. I don’t know how to manage this little puppy. Even though I knew the breed is quite fiery it’s quite different from what I was expecting. I keep having images of Phoenix being quite easy going, which actually he wasn’t completely, but I’m imagining he was.
It’s just been really hectic, and sleeping is not happening; because he wakes up and then he’s whining or he wants to play. Sometimes I play with him, sometimes I force him to just go to sleep again.
It’s interesting because I love dogs so much, but in my behaviour at the moment I feel almost like there’s a deep unkindness; like, “No. It’s not what I’m expecting.”
So managing him feels really, really tough, and I’m really surprised. I’m oscillating between, “Wow, amazing, I love you,” and we’re playing, and I’m completely absorbed in that; and then this moment of, “Oh God. No! What have I done?”
Jim: Yeah, stay with that: “What have I done? It’s not what I’m expecting.”
Q: Sometimes I find myself feeling quite angry about it; but also being very careful not to take it out on the dog and trying to force him to do things, but instead giving him a little bit of freedom, even though I’m being told by lots of people, “Oh, you must be really strong, you must be this, you must be that,” because this breed, they’re quite hard work.
So, it’s just funny: my reaction about the whole thing, and Phoenix coming in, and something about unkindness and I don’t know why.
Jim: Yeah, just stay with that, “It’s not what I’m expecting;” and the anger, the memory of Phoenix, when it seemed easier, and the comparison: “He’s not Phoenix.” What does that bring?
Q: I feel a bit of sadness actually, when I think, “He’s not Phoenix.” I can feel tears coming, and trying to rein them in, because sometimes it’s like he is Phoenix.
Jim: Yeah. Good catch. That’s very common, not just with dogs, but with people too. If we’re unfortunate enough to suffer the tragedy of losing a child, and then go on to have another one, we might even give it the same name as the previous child. This can be very challenging for the newborn, because they then have to live with the projection of the previous child; it’s like they can’t be fully themselves.
Q: I can feel something coming. It’s like there’s a part of me that wanted Phoenix back. That wanted the exact same copy.
Jim: Yeah, and he’s not, and that’s frustrating; just like you said, “It’s not what I’m expecting.” Oscar’s going to be Oscar. He’s not going to be Phoenix. He’s not having it. He’s saying, “See my Oscar-ness.”
Q: Well, that’s what’s been very interesting; because his personality is coming out.
Jim: Yeah, so he’s helping you to break out of the past and be with what’s here-now.
Q: He’s got a really strong personality. He’s got his head on my lap right now, just nudging me, just to let me know, “That’s right. You got that one right at last!”
Jim: That’s what we all want: we want to be recognized for who we are, not someone else, or what other people expect of us. “Here I am. See me.”
Q: It’s been funny because he didn’t want to be in the cage, and I don’t have the heart to lock him in the cage, so I just leave the door open; and then, after about two hours at night, he wants to come into bed with me so I’ve been letting him. It’s really sweet actually, and we’re hugging, literally, in bed; and then, suddenly, I’m listening to someone saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t do that,” and I’m really confused. I didn’t do that with Phoenix for the first two years, and then, when he was about two, I did because one of his friends died and he was quite sad about it, and then I just let him in bed and that was it.
So, with this one I’ve been doing this confused thing: on the one hand it’s, “Okay, we’re sleeping together. If he wants to sleep here let him, instead of trying to make him sleep in the cage with the door open.” But then last night, when he kept coming out and wanting to come up, I kept saying, “No, you’ve got to be in your cage.”
What bothers me is this oscillating between, “Wow, we’re so playful and I’m so gentle with him;” and then it’s, “Argh,” this anger, and this, “Okay, I have to discipline him now. You have to behave,” and then feeling unkind about that.
Jim: Right. Stay with that. “When I’m standing in my power, and setting a boundary, there’s something unkind about that.”
Q: Oh, yuck. Yeah.
Jim: Are you allowed to be powerful? Are you allowed to set boundaries? Or is that unkind, or unpleasant?
Q: This is Weird. Before I picked Oscar up there’s been this theme of the hunter that keeps coming up. Sometimes I can go into this ‘prey’ mode where I feel really powerless, and forget that I’m also the hunter with lots of power.
It’s been playing around for a few months really, ever since I decided to get a Weimaraner. I wasn’t really sure why, but when I read up about them and how strong they are, it was just very clear that I needed to get a Weimaraner.
The first name I picked for him was ‘Hunter’, and then it became ‘Oscar the hunter’. There are times when it’s very clear that I am that powerful hunter, and then other times when I’m the prey again. That’s the oscillation that I’m going through at the moment.
Jim: In caring for another being, like a dog, or a child, it’s an invitation to meet all of the possibilities in ourselves: that playful, joyful way of relating; but also that strength and courage to set clear, healthy boundaries when needed.
It’s a challenge for all of us, especially if deep down we don’t feel that we have value, that we’re not worthy of having any boundaries. Then we either find it very difficult to access that power energy when we need it; or else it can come out all distorted, as aggression or wild rage.
Q: Yeah, I definitely hear that. Historically it’s always been challenging to stand in my power.
Jim: Me too. It’s a journey I’ve been on with my own children; because children, like dogs, they’re so clever, they’re like little zen masters. I remember when I used to be a school teacher, how the kids would see you standing there at the front of the class and very naturally start testing your boundaries. If you’re open and receptive, it’s a powerful mirror for recognising an ‘overly permissive’ pattern you might be stuck in. It’s like they’re waking you up with their zen sticks!
So, that’s been a real journey for me too. For many of us, when we were younger, we learned that to express that powerful energy was bad, uncivilised, and not wanted; so instead we learned to suppress it in order not to be rejected. But then, when we need it authentically in life, we can no longer access it, or we judge ourself as being ‘unkind’ if we do, and so people can take advantage of us.
It’s only ‘unkind’ when we we’re acting out of our ego-structure and using that powerful energy to try to dominate, oppress and control others. In its authentic expression, it comes as a movement towards optimal functioning and harmony.
Just see what you’re noticing right now.
Q: I can feel a buzzing, and a little bit of fear.
Jim: Right. Are you allowed to stand in your power?
Q: I feel like I’m going to cry. Weird.
Jim: Let whatever wants to happen, happen. Just be the openness for what wants to naturally unfold. Are you allowed to stand in your power?
Just see what the intuitive response is. Don’t give the ‘right’ answer.
Q: It’s a little voice, almost like in my belly, that says, “Yes.” But it’s so weak. (Q starts to cough)
Jim: Yeah, that’s it. Just connecting with that little voice. Letting that cough come too.
(Q starts to shake)
Maybe touching your solar plexus there, touching the belly, feeling the support.
(Q starts to growl)
Yeah, feel the breath opening, nice. Letting the energy that’s coming now flow through the body, infusing all the cells: up into the chest, down through the arms into the hands and fingers; down into the thighs, the legs, the feet.
Q: I think Oscar’s trying to help. He’s like: “God, you’re so slow!”
Jim: We’re opening up this full range of possibility now: yes we can be soft and playful, sweet, compassionate; and yes we can stand in our power, be very direct and clear, strong, courageous, passionate, all of it, according to what’s needed in the moment.
And then we notice the old characters in us, the parts of the ego-structure that don’t like it, that want to distort the natural response, or shut down and hide away, and we bow to them: “Thank you. Welcome. You can be here too.” But we’re just not identifying with them anymore.
So, Oscar is part of the learning; teaching you to step beyond the old fear-based patterning, and express yourself fully, freely and authentically: to be who you are.
Q: He sure is! Welcome Oscar, at last. Finally. The royal welcome. Thank you very much. It really feels like: “Yeah, I got this.” Thank you so much for this space and for what you do.
Jim: My pleasure. Thanks for being here, and thank you Oscar.
Q: Thank you Oscar! A big bow to Oscar!