• Jorim Holtey-Weber

The Elephant Who Did Not Question His Belief

Updated: Jun 11, 2019

A baby elephant attached to a peg in the ground

If you have ever been to a circus with an elephant, you might have wondered “how come that this massive and strong animal is secured by a tiny peg in the ground and does not break loose?

The story behind that is one of a belief.

When a circus master adopts a baby elephant, he will not start training it right away. First, the baby elephant will get a cord around his neck attached to a peg in the ground. The baby elephant, of course, will not like being attached to anything and will move around, lean against, and try to somehow get free from the peg.

The circus master will be patient and wait. He knows that his new recruit will only be ready to be trained when he stops rebelling and trying to break free. Some time, perhaps a couple of months, might pass by and the baby elephant will stop rebelling and start its training.

During this time, the baby elephant develops a belief: the belief that he is not able to break free. The belief starts as an idea. He tests the idea time and again by running around, throwing himself against the peg, kicking it, and so on. With every failed try, the idea develops further… At some point the idea has collected enough failed tries. Now, the idea transforms into a belief. A belief is an idea that has been validated enough times to not be examined again.

So, the baby elephant starts his training and grows up. He starts performing on stage and using is growing strength to impress the audience. And he still carries the belief and will never question it again, he thinks “I cannot break free from the peg”.

He does not even think this consciously but carries it in the subconscious. From there it guides and influences his behaviour without him remembering that he once thought he might be able to break free.

What is true for the elephant is also true for you. You, too, have beliefs that guide and influence your behaviour without being consciously aware of them. These might be beliefs about your self-worth, money, relationships, how business works, and so on. Some of your beliefs might carry some truth while others could be as ridiculous as a grown elephant thinking a tiny peg would stop him from running away.

Can you identify some of your limiting beliefs? If you would like some assistance in identifying and breaking free from them, send me an email.

P.S.: I do not endorse animals in circuses.

#limitingbeliefs #neurolinguisticprogramming #nlp #coaching


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