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As with most good advice I’ve received, I rarely see it’s value when I first hear it.
I like to think I know myself pretty well and don’t require an outsider’s opinion regarding the best course of action, particularly when in connection to a personal matter—such as my love life. Yet, as I’ve grown older I have come to realise that I could have avoided many painful experiences if only I had taken on board what I had been told.
The first piece of advice I put in this category was given to me in the middle of a psychotherapy session 20 years ago. I don’t recall anything that was said beforehand or afterward, just this question.
He asked me, “How do you catch a cat?”
I thought it was a strange question to ask regarding my relationship. I couldn’t see the relevance of it. It made me stop and think. Was this a trick question, I wondered. I didn’t know the answer but what I learnt that day put me in good stead a few times.
So, how do you catch a cat?
If you’re an animal owner you will be ahead of me here. My first thought is was to chase it and grab it but that was totally wrong.
Cats are nimble creatures and can easily avoid a human’s futile attempts at capturing them: by crawling under bushes, jumping onto walls, or climbing trees.
The best way to catch a cat is to put its favourite food in its bowl, walk away, and get on with your daily routine. The cat will usually appear, attracted by the smell of its favourite snack.
My therapist suggested this worked well in human relationships too, and I can vouch for this.
By chasing after the person of your dreams with a constant stream of texts, emails or calls, or by showing up wherever they are day and night, you are far more likely to ignite flames of irritation and annoyance than love and attraction.
By giving them space and being your authentic, unique, wonderful self, demonstrating your independence and lack of neediness, they are more likely to notice you and be curious to find out more about you.
Next time you are wondering why the object of your heart’s desire seems to be evading every attempt to connect with them, remember the question, “How do you catch a cat?”