I know that a lot of people come into therapy feeling embarrassed or disappointed with themselves. To admit you aren’t coping seem like failure, and we often believe that we should be able to manage everything on our own. Yet everything you have learned about yourself and your life has come from interaction with other people.
The simple fact is, we need other people to survive no matter what how old we are or what roles we have in life.
I recently came across this article about an Australian Academic, an expert in his field, who found himself unable to cope with the pressures of a television interview. In it, he gives a very honest account of his long standing anxiety, and also describes how liberating it has been to share his difficulties since the incident. In a sense, I guess he is no longer anxious that people will find out about his anxiety.. and that’s a great step forward!
I have provided a link below to the article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. Within that is a link to his blog recounting the moment.
Imagine a baby elephant that is taken from its home to live in a circus. At first the elephant wants to run away, so the trainers tie the young elephant to a wooden stake using a chain. The elephant pulls and pulls against the wooden stake trying to free herself, but the stake doesn’t move. She learns that she does not have the strength to move the stake and so gives up trying.
Now imagine the same elephant thirty years later. She is fully grown; strong and powerful enough to pull down the entire circus tent if she chooses to. Yet each night she is chained to the very same wooden stake which had held her captive all those years ago. It never occurs to her to pull against the stake, because she trusts her experience.
And elephants never forget.
Maybe you too feel trapped, or unable to break free in your life. Have you considered that your assumptions about the world might be based on old information? Perhaps things have changed. Maybe you have grown. Maybe now is the time to re-evaluate your strengths.
To learn more from elephants try the video below.
Many of us find it hard to try new things. We know that it would be good for us to to eat healthier, exercise more, or worry less about what other people think. We can devise plans to help us achieve these goals, yet when we try to put plans into action we find ourselves stuck. It’s as though something inside is warning you not to continue.
These “warnings” are really self- limiting beliefs like “I’m not good enough”, “the world is dangerous”, and “people can’t be trusted”. These beliefs tend to encourage people to overemphasise negative aspects of life and restrict their attempts to change. After a while this becomes a habit and people don’t even realise its happening.
To deal with this, it’s helpful to;
As you work on this you will be free to put effort into developing more constructive mental habits. A nice place to start is to identify your strengths and to focus on these as you go through the day. You will probably notice your self- limiting beliefs emerging as you try and do this, if so think of it as a chance to acknowledge and deal with those beliefs. This way you are getting double the effect!
If you are struggling to identify your strengths then you could start by clicking on the link below and either reading about different strengths or completing the questionnaire at
Until next time