So – at the risk of looking foolish, let me illustrate today’s lesson using a story from my life.
An embarrassing story.
The other day, I found myself wearing a particular jersey/jumper. This particular jersey/jumper has a zip at the front, which is broken – it remains forever, in a permanently ‘done up’ state. This doesn’t overly concern me, as it’s big enough that I can easily put it on and take it off without needing to unzip it – I just chuck it on right over my head as you would if you were putting on a jersey/jumper that didn’t have a zip at the front.
Well – at some point during the day, I decided I wanted to take off my jersey/jumper with the zip permanently stuck at the front. But, for some reason – when I went to pull my arms back out, I couldn’t! It was all of a sudden too small. It had shrunk somehow! I struggled and struggled, I wiggled and wiggled, (I’m ashamed to say I even jiggled and jiggled) – but to no avail. I tried to lift it over my head but only succeeded in getting more stuck than I was before.
After a particularly aggressive manoeuver, I heard a ‘rip’ sound emanating from somewhere and realized to my horror that in my efforts to extricate myself I had inadvertently ripped a pocket almost clean off! It hung, limply from the front, threads dangling down despondently.
It was at that moment that I realized I wasn’t wearing the jersey/jumper that I thought. This wasn’t the jersey/jumper with a broken zip at the front. This was a normal jersey/jumper with a normal functioning zipper.
I had spent the last 10 minutes looking like a magician attempting to escape a strait jacket and the whole time all I needed to do was simply unzip the zip and take it off. Like a normal human being.
Instead, I had destroyed what was a perfectly good jersey/jumper – and looked like a complete idiot in the process.
What’s the lesson?
Sometimes we think we’re stuck – but we’re not. Sometimes we feel like we’re trapped – but we’re not. Sometimes we tell ourselves “Oh, I can’t do that.” but we can. Very often we let past experiences dictate our future efforts.
It’s like the old story of the baby elephant that gets a rope around its foot, the other end tied to a wooden peg in the ground. No matter how hard it pulls, it can’t escape – so eventually it gives up. Of course, over the years it grows into an adult, and the truth is it could easily pull up the wooden peg and go wherever it pleases, but it doesn’t even try. It stays stuck, forever restricted by nothing more than its own idea of what’s holding it back.
Take a fresh look at what you’re facing and ask yourself the question: “Am I really as stuck as I think I am?” Perhaps all you need to realize is you’re not wearing the jersey/jumper you thought you were…