This isn’t the story about the four blind men and the elephant, this is the story of me looking at that 6 ton elephant in the zoo, tethered to that tiny stake, and wondering why on earth she doesn’t break loose. Instead she rocks back and forth when it should take an electric fence, iron bars, or 25 armed men to confine her, if that.

It’s all in her mind, God love her.

How can this happen? How has she forgotten what she’s capable of?

Elephants are mammals, like us humans, and they share the limbic brain with us. This means, unlike reptiles, we are able to learn. Elephants need to learn many things to survive; for instance they aren’t born knowing what their trunk is for. Some aren’t weaned until their 10th year, and they’re all completely dependant on their mothers (physically and emotionally) for 4-5 years.

Most of the growth of the elephant brain takes place after birth, and this happens with learning.

Unfortunately it, like us, learns both good and bad things. The elephant may learn when it tries to leave the herd, the others will come after it causing a fuss, which scares it, so it remembers not to wander off.

It may learn it can pick up tasty treats with its trunk, and so it remembers to do this.

Or someone may capture it when it’s little, and put a chain around its leg attached to a stake that’s too strong for it to pull away from. It will try with all its might, and only succeed in tearing its leg which causes more pain, so eventually, being smart, being able to learn, it gives up.
What it has learned is hopelessness and helplessness. This means for the rest of its life, even when it weigh 6 tons and should be nearly impossible to contain, it will allow that chain on its leg to rule its life.

So there stands that 6-ton animal, tethered by nothing really, except its fearful memories.

Has this happened to you? (Think about it.)

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, The EQ Coach, Offering individual, executive and team coaching in emotional intelligence, leadership, communication, resilience and success. The EQ Foundation Course©, The EQ Learning Lab™, The EQ eBook Library – for FREE ezine.