The Elephant’s Rope: what’s holding you back?

Whereever you go Kabat-Zinn

A man was passing by a group of elephants when he noticed they were being held by nothing more than a small rope tied to their front leg.  At anytime the elephants could break away but for some reason, they didn’t.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there, making no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they were very young, much smaller, we used the same sized rope to tie them; at that age, it was enough to hold them. As they grew up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot escape. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

This story got me thinking about what holds us back.  Why, when we can go wherever we choose, do we stay where we are?  Letting go can seem really difficult, especially if it’s associated with change or painful memories.  But can we just decide one day to break free from the things that stop us moving forward.  What’s holding you back?

Why birds stay


Here is some food for thought:
1) Have a think about what’s holding you back.  Is it time, money, energy, memories or other people?  Write a list (if it helps) of what it is that’s keeping you stuck.
2) Think about the benefits of holding on to those things.  If it’s the past, your thoughts or negative people, consider what you gain by holding on to them.
3)  Create a plan of where you want to be and how you can get there through positive action.  Do you need to have a conversation with someone, where you can assertively say what you need without conflict arising?  If the past is dominating your present, consider what steps you can take to move forward in a way you find healthy and helpful.  You may find techniques like mindfulness useful, for keeping your thinking in the here and now  Ask for help, if it’s difficult to manage on your own.

As Jon Kabat-Zinn said, wherever you go, there you are.

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About Delphi Ellis

Qualified Counsellor, Mental Health and Well-Being Trainer, and Mindfulness Practitioner. Creator of Monday Mojo™. Talks 'Lady Business', raising awareness of factors which predominantly affect Women's Mental Health like pregnancy and domestic abuse. Helping to improve the global conversation, and bring an end to stigma and shaming. Dream Explorer as seen on the telly. Avid tea drinker.

1 Comment

  1. […] wrote an article called “The Elephant’s Rope” to explore the idea that something is holding you back and what can […]

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