Pets Give Unconditional Acceptance That’s Hard To Get Elsewhere
When you have IBS, it’s easy to feel isolated, misunderstood and judged by the people around you. While the people closest to you try to understand what you’re going through, most can’t quite grasp it. It’s not always for lack of trying though, rather it’s hard to understand something you’ve never experienced. And you can’t blame them for that, especially if they’re doing their best to be supportive.
But even with that support, there’s always something lingering in the background - a question, an assumption, a lack of true acceptance because they can’t relate through personal experience. And that lack of unconditional acceptance can make you feel like you’re blowing things out of proportion and causing more trouble than you should. Not feeling accepted isn’t a nice place to be.
Pets give unconditional acceptance better than most humans
Instead of getting annoyed at the humans in your life who don’t quite get it, a good strategy is to turn to furry friends who willing accept the person that feeds, shelters and takes care of them.
One of the best choices for unconditional acceptance is a dog. Most dogs are very playful, love being petted and will joyfully greet you whenever you appear. Some cats are also very friendly and love snuggling up, which can be handy when you’re curled up on the couch dealing with an IBS flare up, but other cats can be more independent and prefer to do their own thing.
Of course pets do require ongoing care, so you have to choose a pet carefully based on the commitment you can put in. But having a pet to care for can help to keep you motivated each day, which is particularly useful when you’re feeling down.
When I was growing up we had several pets. There was a cat and her endless supply of kittens, a little terrier that rocked up on our doorstep one day and decided to stay, and a horse whose job was to mow our lawn. All of them were exceptionally friendly, helped to keep me physically active, and were fantastic companions when times were tough.
But what if you can’t own a pet?
These days I don’t have pets. For most of my adult life, I’ve lived in rented properties and haven’t been allowed to own a pet.
These days, the closest I get to having a pet is my neighbor’s dogs, who always come and say hello when they’ve been let out to play. And my sister’s new fish. Fish aren’t the friendliest of animals though, so you don’t get that same feeling of acceptance from them. But a fish tank has a different advantage - watching fish swim around their tank is a mindful action that can distract you from fretting about your symptoms or other stresses in your life. Plus, fish don’t need to be walked.
Another option if you don’t have access to other people’s pets is to spend time with babies and small children. Playing with the little ones of friends and family is in many ways like playing with a dog. You get to play games, have cuddles, and there’s normally lots of giggles. And unconditional acceptance. Small children, like pets, don’t judge. So long as you pay them attention and play with them, children don’t care what else is going on in your life. Since there’s no need for them to understand your IBS, it simply doesn’t enter the equation.
The good thing is that it doesn’t matter which option you have access to. As long as there’s a way for you to experience unconditional acceptance, it will do you and your IBS the world of good.
Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?