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Self Imposed Cages

One of my favorite books is called Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.   In her book, she tells the story of Mohini a white tiger who lived at the Washington DC National Zoo.  For years, Mohini had a tiny little cell that he lived in.  Because it was so small–Mohini would just pace back and forth in his cell.  He would spend his days walking the same path, back and forth, back and forth, until it was a well worn path.  Finally, the zoo raised enough money and they were able to build a beautiful natural habitat for him with lots of grass and trees. There was a big opening and they let Mohini in to the new habitat and he immediately went to a far corner and started pacing back and forth back and forth. He did not explore his new surroundings or even look around he just found a spot and began pacing.

The first time I heard this story, I was listening to Tara speak at a conference. I was just blown away by the story. Stories do the best job of just shaking our core.  It was a wow moment for me, because I can remember where I was sitting, my reaction and how it felt to hear that story.   I realized that in my own life and in my clients lives we frequently keep ourselves in a cage unnecessarily.  We feel locked into something, we feel stuck, but the cage is imaginary.  If we would only look up and look around we could see the possibilities.  We would realize the cage is made up of our own limiting beliefs and negative self talk our own shoulds, and what-ifs.  The cage isn’t real.

It some ways it is safe to live in a self imposed cage.  The cage gives us a place to put the blame and keeps us safe.  It prevents us from really having to take a risk, or to face our fears and our inner critic.     Unfortunately the pain comes in when we realize we have lived a life stuck on a path that we didn’t really want, that we didn’t really chose.  All we have to do is lift our heads up, look around and say to ourselves–do I like my path, is this where I want to be?  And if not–what is one change I can make? What is one little step I can take that will pull me off the path for a little while?  Do I want to take a class, get a massage, go dancing with my friends, take a trip, write a book, paint a picture? The possibilities are endless.

By the time Mohini made it to the larger more expansive habitat he was already beaten down enough to not even bother to look up and see the possibilities.  In order to prevent that in our own lives–we have to pay attention to our daily lives, and see where we might want to add some spice or make some changes.  We have to continually check our limiting beliefs, negative self talk and see if it is keeping us in a self imposed cage.  Living Happier is about exploring both our internal and external worlds to make sure we are living our lives to the fullest and not just stuck in a cage of our own making.

It’s a big, vast, wonderful world. Go Exploring and Live Happier.

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