My 5-month-old lab puppy Olive just taught me a powerful lesson about life….
When Olive was about 2 and 3 months old, we crate trained her—meaning, we put her in a little cage and every few hours would take her out to go potty and play some tug-of-war and fetch.
This helped her learn to control her bladder and not turn my carpet into something that looked like Jackson Pollock had painted with wide swaths of urine and dog turd.
At first, she would work like crazy to get out—feverishly trying to dig through the cage’s door with her paws as if she hadn’t been fed in three days and we were dangling a nice fat rib eye steak just outside the little door.
Olive soon learned that no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get the door open and escape the confinement of the tiny cage without one of us actually letting her out.
Fortunately, these days she’s all done with potty training and hasn’t had an accident on the floor in about a month, so we let her have free run of the house. (Which I love BTW, though I think the rest of the family sees her as a fluffy terrorist —cute, but still a legitimate terrorist.)
Luckily, her only victims have been our shoes, cords, children’s toys, combs, and books she’s chewed to shreds.
Now, once in a while my 15-month-old daughter Zoe likes to grab Olive by the ear or neck, guide her into her cage, and close the door behind her.
Since Zoe doesn’t know how to actually lock the cage door, she just pushes it closed—but it doesn’t lock and could be easily opened from the inside with even the smallest of pushes.
Now, Olive doesn’t know it isn’t locked, she just has the BELIEF that it’s locked, so she doesn’t even try to get out, even though she can’t stand being in that cage. Olive will sit in that cage for hours, not knowing that if she just pushed on the door, she could easily get out and and taste sweet freedom once again…along with another one of my sneakers and the stuffing from inside a few of my innocent little daughter’s teddy bears.
Tourists trip out over how the elephant handlers use thin ropes tied to tiny little sticks in the ground to make the elephants stay put.
This is because when the elephants were young, their handlers would tie ‘em to big tree trunks with thick ropes. The baby elephants would try to get away, pulling and tugging until they wore themselves out.
They’d finally realize they couldn’t get away when they were tied up like this.
Now, as the elephants grow bigger, the handlers decrease the size of the ropes and sticks they use. And since the elephants still think they can’t get away, they don’t even try. Even though they could EASILY walk away and pull the stick right out of the ground if they just gave it .01% of their strength.
One of the largest and strongest animals on the planet, constrained by a tiny little stick and rope.
Our beliefs are just like these sticks and ropes, and like the cage door Olive doesn’t know she could easily open if she just made even the slightest attempt.
I know I’m personally holding onto to all kinds of beliefs that aren’t serving me, my journey, or the people in my life one bit. That’s why I do my best to challenge these beliefs doing things like walking through the things I fear, looking at self-doubt as a signpost that I’m on the right path, and questioning my thoughts as often as I can. (Byron Katie’s 4 questions have helped me a ton with this)
My question to you is…
What beliefs are holding you back?
And what are you going to do about it?
Let’s pull the stick from the ground, push open the cage door, and expand the living shit out of what’s possible. What’s possible is far greater than what we believe is possible.
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Big Chris (=
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