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I am not a cat.

This week, there was a news story about a Texas lawyer who appeared as a fluffy, white, talking cat during a Zoom meeting with a judge. The lawyer had mistakenly turned on a video filter and couldn’t seem to get it off.

On the video, the lawyer’s voice grows increasingly anxious as he tells the judge, “I don’t know how to remove it… I have my assistant here… I’m here… I’m not a cat.”

It’s funny to watch the fluffy, white cat speaking to the judge, its eyes big and pleading. You can sense the lawyer’s frustration as he attempts to clarify that he is who he says he is, even behind the filter. 

We bring many filters to our interactions with others. Sometimes they are intentional – a desire to present ourselves in a certain way or mask the imperfections we don’t want others to see. A social disguise to get through the day. 

Other times, the masks seem to be holding us hostage, hiding who we truly are. We might feel we have lost ourselves in the process and can’t show ourselves as we would like.

When the lawyer emphatically stated, “I’m here… I’m not a cat,” he was also saying:

I don’t like hiding.
I don’t want to play this game. 
Don’t be fooled by this filter. 
I want to be myself.
I want you to know who I am.

What about you? What might you say if given the chance to show yourself without a filter?

I’m ______.  I’m not a ________.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.