Taylor Wark

Taylor Ashley, RP #11063 is a Registered Psychotherapist at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 11yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Taylor here.

Cat Energy and Self-Esteem

For full transparency, I am a dog person. One of the main reasons as to why I love dogs is because when they enter a room all they want is attention. Most dogs want you to like them, pet them, and talk to them in that high-pitched baby voice. They will nudge you, stare you down, and if someone doesn’t like them, they sulk. Dogs are great. However, for some people, dogs are too needy. They require too much care, too much attention, are too hairy, or need too much training.

Even as a self-proclaimed dog person, I pride myself on trying to exude cat energy, not dog energy, in my everyday life.

Let me explain.

When a cat enters a room full of people, you’re lucky it chose to make an appearance in the first place. Cats are notorious for coming and going as they please, wherever they feel most comfortable. Just because the cat entered the room does not mean it will pay you any attention. The cat ultimately decides whom it gives its attention to. The cat may move around the room to different people depending on what it wants. Some people will just let him sit and observe, others will want to pet him, and others will give him treats or hold him. The cat will work its way around the room until he is tired at which point people will smile and move on, usually thinking about the positive interaction they had with the cat.
Sure, some cats are social and love people, but when we think of a ‘typical’ cat, that is not usually what comes to mind.

The point is: the cat doesn’t care if it’s liked or not. The cat is more focused on its own well-being.

Now, I bet you’re wondering “How do cats and dogs relate to self-esteem?”

Well, let me tell you.
I call this approach “Cat Energy”.

When people walk into a social setting or a room full of people, they are generally hyperaware of how they are being perceived by others. I often hear from clients, “What if they don’t like me?”
This is when I get to ask, “Well how do you know if you like them?”

Cat energy in a nutshell:

When a cat walks into a room, it does not worry about who likes it. The cat walks in aware of what it wants or needs and proceeds to act in a way that gets those needs met. If the cat does not want to be pet, he avoids people who will pet him. If he wants to be left alone, he will join a group that knows not to pester him.

The point is, the cat is never thinking “I hope these people like me” instead, the cat is focusing on if IT LIKES THE PEOPLE.

Now when humans walk into a room, we tend to stress about others liking us, what they think about us, and what they will say afterwards… and the thoughts continue endlessly. We tend to be self-critical before even stepping foot in the room; thoughts rooted in self-doubt and lack of self-confidence. What if instead, we asked ourselves, I wonder who I am going to like here? I wonder what I will get to talk about and learn? And if I don’t connect with people, then I have the right to leave without feeling like I am the problem – my needs were simply not met there.

So often we put the burden on ourselves to make sure we are accepted by others when we should be paying attention to how we feel in social situations. It is not our job to change ourselves to be included, and our internal worth should be the driving factor when making new friends or meeting people. Our internal perception of our own self-worth is a great navigation system letting us know when things are right and wrong if we simply listen to our gut instead of trying to silence it fearing rejection.

If a cat is rejected from a group due to allergies, not wanting fur on clothes, or simply not liking cats, the cat doesn’t go and sulk, it moves on to the next group. The cat goes where it knows it’s appreciated. It does not stay in an environment that does not celebrate it being there. If a cat does not like someone it usually lets you know by swatting, hissing, or walking away to avoid a person.

Now, I am not encouraging these behaviours in social situations for humans, but our gut instincts do react in a similar way. We feel the unease, the clenching, the tensing in our muscles, or we get uncomfortable with having our own voice. Often, we ignore this thinking “I don’t want to be rude” or “If I leave, they’ll exclude me in the future”.

Let’s reframe those thoughts:

  1. If I am uncomfortable and I leave, I have listened to my instincts and allowed myself the opportunity to feel comfortable somewhere else.
  2. Do I really want to be included in future conversations if I am uncomfortable now? Do these people serve me in a way that feels good?
  3. If I like these people, they most likely enjoy my presence too. I know my value and what I have to offer in conversations and social situations.
  4. I really am cool. People have more reasons to like me than not like me. (This one usually gets a giggle from clients who are not used to thinking of themselves in that way).

The truth is, when we show up as our authentic selves we attract like-minded people, and this helps us develop better connections and feel more comfortable entering those daunting rooms.

When it comes down to it, it’s asking yourself the golden question:

What if instead of worrying about people liking me, I get to find out whom I like?

Having that mentality opens a world of new opportunities and confidence when we accept how great we truly are and move our focus away from our need to be liked. Self-esteem comes from us believing we have inherent value to other people; that people would want to be around us because we possess desirable traits. The more we value ourselves the more others value us in return.

We can be the cats walking into the room. Confident and curious, and looking to find our people. Remember, the option to leave the room is also always there.

Bring on the cat energy!

Taylor Wark

Taylor Ashley, RP  #11063 is a Registered Psychotherapist at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 11yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Taylor here.

Share This Post

About Our Counsellors

Need to Ask Questions First?

Check out our FAQ

Call 1-800-828-9484 or e-mail us today