Journal Entry: November 16, 2006 -- Reactions to Stress for Horse and Cat
During times of stress and anxiety, I have made observations regarding Cat's and Horse's reactions to stress/stressful situations, and how they differ from each other. I tend toward reacting on neither, because they wouldn't accomplish anything in relation to the source of the stress (in this case, school work), but the desires are still there. As could be expected, Horse tends to over-exaggerate the entire situation and essentially "freaks out" to an unnecessary level because the anxiety seems, in my horse mentality, a prominent 'threat' that I have to get away from. Prior to the stress laying too greatly on me, when I just know that I have a lot I am going to have to do in a 'short' amount of time, Horse thinks in terms that I can relay in words as being somewhat "racehorse"-like in thought--I don't want to run from the problem, because I don't view it as a threat at the time, just a challenge that I know I need to overcome. So Horse oversimplifies the idea of "I have this, this, this, etc., to do for school by [insert day]", to "I just need to start running as soon as I can so that I can reach my goal as quickly and painlessly as I can". More accurately, the almost instinctive drive to immediately run when I begin thinking about the many or difficult things I am going to have to accomplish, for school or whatever else would give a similar situation, and that I need to only burst into a full run and through my determination, to push myself, my body and legs, until I reach the goal and thusly surpass the challenge. Of course, this isn't something I act on, I don't have a horse body for one, but neither would just taking off into a full run at any time or place, when I think about the 'challenge', be practical let alone at all useful to actually overcoming the challenge. So, when I override that running desire, I toss my head, snort outwards, and swing my ears back in anxiety because I'm being held back too much against my drive.
The idea of having to take time to carefully do task after task of college homework doesn't register in the horse mind, so as Horse, I think in terms of what a horse knows and how a horse may think of approaching a situation. Horse doesn't think of this "running to reach the goal" as a metaphor--it is meant in seriousness because this is what Horse understands better. College work, studying for classes, reading literature for school, these don't have meaning to Horse, these have meaning to my human mind and understanding--but running, pushing my body and pounding my hooves across land, to 'defeat a challenge', to accomplish a 'goal', has large meaning to Horse.
In contrast, Cat seems to want to "sleep through the problem" when it comes to stress. Horse tends to react before Cat when it comes to challenges like much school work, but when Cat does react, it tends to be a thought revolving around not thinking about or facing the problem directly for awhile and instead to just relax my mind through it and sleep. In some sense, sleeping has always been a sort of "sanctuary" to Cat, and I recall the many times throughout high school when I wanted to get through or avoid a problem by sleeping for awhile, with it often being connected to myself as a cat. I don't have to be stressed and worried, and panicking to get something finished if I'm asleep. Of course, the concept of "sleep", the significance of it, is far from my only thoughts when it comes to experiencing Cat, but it's still a part of it, nonetheless. Just as with Horse when I get the desire to run in order to overcome a problem, with Cat I get the strong desire to curl up in "my cat body" (which appears as a very obscure image in my mind, that seems to be more understanding than a clear image), and sometimes it is accompanied by phantom shifts of parts of a cat body, usually back and front legs. I want to, at those times, be able to twist by neck and head to the side, so that my face meets up with my back feet, in a 'ball-like' position, and possibly with a tail (of unknown length) that wraps around the outside edge of my body. I want to be able to move and bend my feet as though they are sized and shaped like that of a cat, and the few times I do actually attempt this "curl up" position, I'm left with my thighs having to suffice as my 'cat feet', giving the length of my obviously human thighs, but they end up working out as ending at a similar point where my cat feet would if I had a cat body, so I recall times of having phantom cat feet for my thighs and the 'familiar' feeling it created.
I also have this 'curl up' desire when it comes to being cold, considering that I have bad cold sensitivity a lot of times, so if I get cold, which I certainly perceive as a "problem", I have the urge to curl up tightly and sleep, in order to conserve my heat and to not have to think about being cold. Maybe that is some source to Cat's reaction to some other problems, like a lot of school work, and it gets related as being a similar concept that should be approached in the same way--curl up and sleep for awhile, just relax and keep warm. Maybe another time I'll describe more in depth Cat's connection with the Fire Element, as well as 'her' strong dislike of cold temperatures.
When it comes to the 'challenge' becoming more profound as causing anxiety and stress, Horse reacts the strongest, although Cat also reacts. I found myself today, after taking a much needed nap this afternoon, not wanting to even pull myself up off of the bed, and had cat phantom shifts, particularly my 'forelegs'. Every time I tried to push myself up, my mind decided that sleep felt a lot better than getting up and having to do homework or other duties today, so I would lift my upper body up some, supported by my arms, and then decide to just lay back down, and thusly flopped back down with cat phantom legs laid on their sides. I've had times like that before and had to tell myself to get up, basically (not as in "me speaking to Cat", but me just to myself in general), although I have found that food or drink make a good motivator to get up, because getting up and therefore away from sleep in order to do homework didn't make a convincing enough motivator.
However, with Horse, when I hit that level of noticeable anxiety and stress, I get in the mentality of seeing it as a dangerous threat that I *have* to get away from, but of course I can't just get away from it by running, though that desire to run remains, just different in these cases because instead of running to overcome a challenge in order to reach a goal, I want to run as in "flee" away from danger, and to not do so makes me more anxious because I'm being "held back" for reasons that my horse mentality doesn't understand. I go the route of overriding it, but the thoughts, fears (over-exaggerated, I must say), and desires of Horse remain in the background, and I still end up getting the anxious phantom feelings and the desires of a pawing hoof, tossing head or arched neck with head pulling down and back, ears back, short bursts of snorts, and sometimes whinnying. Even in this, I still find it interesting to observe my therianthropy and how it manifests like this specifically, as well as how the thoughts, instincts, and mind-body connections of human, horse, feline (and the other two when I can observe them better) are alike and are different. Mind and body are highly interconnected with my animal sides, and a number of their thoughts and understanding are through body movements, poses, or other body conditions, and similarly, body is very important to my human mentality, but my human mind often thinks a lot more in terms of abstracts separate from my body, but my human body still plays a greatly significant part for me, my reactions, my health (mental, emotional, and spiritual, not just physical), and how largely the different levels of myself are all connected to each other, and thusly all connected to my human body, for good and bad.