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The Elephant and The Rope: What You Believe is Powerful!

When we look at a friend, doesn’t it seem easy to smile at her and tell her how great she is? Or remind her how strong and capable she is to overcome anything she faces? We believe in her without hesitation. From the outside looking in, it is always easier to see what to remove to unblock the path.  But when we look at ourselves, we don’t trust the same possibilities.  When it is our own life, our own struggle, our own mindset: our vision is not as clear. . .

Have you heard the parable of the Elephant and the Rope? The author may be unknown, but the story has been passed around for ages. It is embedded with simple truths that are resonated with around the world…

The Elephant and the Rope

As my friend was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not. My friend saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.

“Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size of rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” My friend was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

This story is an explanation of training elephants, but more so, it is about the complexity and power of the human psyche. The elephant is one of the strongest animals on earth, but can easily be bound by a simple, tiny piece of rope and a lot of habitual conditioning.  The rope is nothing major, it’s a very simple tool. However, in the mind of the elephant, that rope is unbreakable. The grown Elephant has long given up on trying to break through the rope.

She gave up when she was so small, so she had no idea what she would one day be capable of.  That silly little rope seemed too much to overcome. She gave up because she stopped believing in herself.

Mental ropes that bind us.

The Mental Ropes We Allow In Our Lives

How many mental “ropes” do you have binding your thoughts and dreams? What things from your childhood do you still let hold you back?  What limiting beliefs do you still allow to speak into your life?

If a rope was tied to your sister’s leg, keeping her from stepping forward, you would tell her to cut it off.  But what about when it’s on our own foot, tripping us when we try to take a small step? Do we even notice it, or have we already accepted it as part of who we are? How does the simple weak thread that we can so simply rip off of clothes suddenly become thick cables unrelentingly holding us back from our dreams and happiest life?

Our limiting beliefs about ourselves and our talents wrap around and constrict us. The threads may be made of up the harsh words said to us as kids about our abilities or worth.  Or woven from the shame of feeling you should have done this or that.  Failure starts to add weight to the bonds. We believe less and less that we will ever break free and move forward. 

In all honesty and love, the truth is that our past is in the past.  Bad things happened, we got hurt, we survived.  It doesn’t negate the validity of what you went thru, but it is behind you. For some people, life was just fine. Nothing was really hard or sad, but we still don’t really feel like we’re worth much. In either scenario, the ropes are still there.

You Are Stronger Than You Believe!

Imagine being that baby elephant, with this annoying rope tied to your leg, and you tug on it for days, even months. Just trying, out of curiosity, to see what would happen. You may not even be trying to run away, you just pull at the rope to see the possibilities. 

Then as time goes by, trying and being disappointed isn’t worth the possibility of a success or surprise. It becomes more and more comfortable as days go by to not even tug at the rope anymore.  To just succumb to the mundane schedule of the trainers and following in line with your elephant friends, never knowing what you are actually capable of.

Years later, you have grown and become so much stronger and smarter than you know.  But you never try to kick that foot out a little harder. You never give it that little extra tug and test how tough that rope really is.

Think about that for just a moment – a full grown elephant has the pull strength of 600 men. She could rip an entire tree trunk out of the ground if she tried, let alone break that tiny little rope.  What if our ropes are just as easy to break in reality?    

What You Believe is More Important Than What the Rope is Made of!

The past hurts, but the beauty of the past is that it is IN THE PAST! Let it GO! (great song by the way for reminding yourself to seriously, let it go!). You choose to let your past effect you today, or you choose to live today IN today, looking forward to your future.  You hold the power in that choice every. single. day. 

Just like the growing elephant, we LEARN how to adapt to our surroundings or to live within them.  We can also unlearn and explore possibilities we never considered before or didn’t think were worth the time to try.  There may be a rope around you, but what you chose to BELIEVE today about that rope is what matters.

And as a side note, don’t put yourself in ropes! You won’t really level up in your life if you are stuck trying to grab that last coin in Mario Bros and never finish the mission. That coin, that you don’t need, isn’t part of the mission, and it does not serve you.  You’re stuck going the wrong direction and can’t move forward to your next castle. Sure, I’m making a video game analogy to our deep emotional and complicated psyche. 

But really, it’s that simple sometimes.  If going in one direction isn’t working, stop and step back.  You might just step right out of the rope you thought was binding you.

Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve!
CHOOSE not to accept the false boundaries and limitations created by the past.


Believe in YOU!

So what limiting beliefs are you still holding onto? Why aren’t you dealing with that issue and then letting it go? It’s hard sometimes to deal with it, but I promise you, you will not be able to move on if you are tied to untruths that you allow to speak into your life about who and what you are.  

When we start believing in our truth, in our strength, in our abilities and talents – the ropes are powerless.  They crumble and leave a faint trace of a scar to remind us what we went thru, but we are free. . .

Jeanne Hutchinson

Jeanne moved to Loveland in 5th grade from Michigan and graduated from Loveland High before joining the ARMY as a medic. Colorado has always been “home”, so she was excited to return in 2016 after almost 20 years as a nomad. After the military she was blessed with a job that allowed her to travel the world - seeing 26 countries in just a few years. Having that world perspective really solidified for her how blessed we are and to always strive to see the positive aspects not just of life, but also in the hearts of everyone around us. Equipped with not only the gritty real life experiences of the military, she is has a degree in Psychology and is a Certified Financial Educator who has worked in corporate as well as entrepreneurial roles. We are all connected and deserving of love and success. Jeanne has made it part of her mission in life to spread joy, help others navigate the challenges of life, and edify other women to believe in themselves and create the life they dream of.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ginnie Givens

    Took me many years to figure out that I was stronger than that invisible rope. Love your strenghth and passing on to others what they are capible of.

  2. corpusluteum

    The human psyche is powerful enough to convince us we are human.

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