In the past century, the tactics involved in taming an elephant for circus performing aren’t nearly as violent or barbaric as they once were, but it still remains heartbreaking to witness.
We all know this magnificent two-ton animal could crush its handler instantly, and yet the elephant obeys his every command. Sometimes doing tricks that are dangerous to its own health.
How can this be? How can such a strong and relatively smart animal withstand this kind of captivity?
The stinging reminder never disappears—this incredible animal was taken from its natural habitat, usually at a young age, was “broken in” over a long period of time, and was conditioned to deny its natural behaviors and instincts.
The elephant eventually learns to give up its true nature.
“Taming” an elephant for the circus is similar in some ways to the “taming” many of us received growing up.
In a more socially-acceptable way, many of us were trained to be different from who we were made to be.
We were trained to be good, be smart, and we had to work hard for love and approval. But over time, our morality, intellect, and willpower to be someone else made our hearts sick. Instead of being nurtured and encouraged to live fully from our own unique makeup, we were conditioned to be someone else’s picture of who we “should” be.
When we deny our true emotional and spiritual make up and live by the standard, “How I’m made is defective or not good enough,” we live in the shadow of toxic shame.
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