I thought of something I heard about circus elephants when I was a child. Suddenly I realized it would make a good short story about the power of subconscious mind - how our own thoughts can limit us.
So here you have a lesson about the power of subconscious mind - taught by elephants.
The circus elephants were standing behind the tents. The circus director had given Tommy and his grandfather permission to go see them. Tommy was so impressed his grandfather knew a circus director. He was sure there would be plenty of good stories in store about grandfather´s youth when they got back home.
Grandfather was holding Tommy´s hand in his when they saw the circus elephants for the first time. Tommy was very happy about it - he had never imagined the elephants would be so enormous!
There were five of them, all eating hay. Tommy looked at them, mesmerized by their size and the elegant movement of the trunks. An older man was carrying more hay to them and smiled at the old gentleman and the little boy.
"Want to come closer?" he asked and smiled at Tommy, winking his eye to grandfather - they seemed to know each other too.
Tommy couldn´t get a word out of his mouth. He looked up at his grandfather who smiled back.
"Do you want to?" Grandfather asked.
Tommy just nodded.
"Can we give them treats?" Grandfather asked the man.
"Maybe not - if you only give one elephant something good to eat, the others want to have some too. Might be a bit scary for a small boy to be surrounded by five elephants…"
"Of course. Come, Tommy!"
Tommy followed grandfather to the nearest circus elephant. Grandfather patted the huge animal - it kept on eating. Tommy gathered all his courage and reached out his hand. Shyly he stroked the thick, wrinkled skin. He looked up and saw the elephant looking at him.
The other circus elephants kept on munching their hay, but the one Tommy had touched reached out his trunk and gently stroked the boy´s hair, as if smelling him. It was an amazingly light touch. Tommy´s face lit up and he couldn´t help but smile.
The men laughed and Tommy relaxed into stroking the trunk. Then his eyes caught sight of the rope that was tied around the hind leg of the animal, keeping it in place.
"Couldn´t he escape? The rope is so thin…" Tommy said and pointed.
The elephant man smiled.
"He sure could! All these elephants could break their ropes any time."
"Why don´t they?" Tommy wanted to know. In his imagination he already saw five elephants running through the tents, through the fair ground. He could vividly imagine ladies with parasols fainting, children screaming, lemonade sellers running for their lives, clowns scattering to all directions...
"Well - when they are young, they are tied down with similar rope," the man said, "Only the rope is tied so well they cannot break it. They try, but they can´t snap it or pull it loose. And so they learn the rope keeps them in place. And when they grow older, they keep on believing it and don´t even try to escape anymore."
Little Tommy looked at the huge circus elephants in disbelief.
"And that, little man, is a good lesson for life," the elephant man said, "It is just as easy to make a man believe in his own powerlessness. If someone makes you believe you are powerless to change things, and they do it so well that you really do believe their words, you keep on believing them. If you do that, you sabotage your own life by not even trying to reach for better things. And only because you never question what someone in the past made you believe."
Tommy looked at the man and then up to his grandfather. Grandfather nodded.
"That is true, Tommy. So when ever you meet a person in your life who tries to make you believe you are not valuable or that you can´t do something, remember these circus elephants. Don´t believe when others belittle our abilities. They cannot know the great things you could do in life - only you can."
"So when mommy says I should not climb to the apple tree in the back yard she is wrong?"
The men laughed out loud.
"No, Tommy. When you are young, listen to your parents because they know what might be dangerous to you. They advice you out of love. But you will meet people who would like nothing more than to drag you down when they see you could do great things. They can be children, they can be adults."
"Because they have that invisible rope around their ankle. They don´t try new things because of it. And when they see someone who does - deep inside they know they could do it too. But snapping that old rope is not easy, and it may even hurt because they have built their lives believing in their limitations. Old habits die hard… And so they try to stop you from trying to make your life better because it makes them feel uncomfortable. If they succeed in stopping you, they feel better again. But you will feel lousy."
The elephant man patted the circus elephant.
"And if you feel lousy, you know you have acted against your heart. When that happens, stop and think if you shouldn´t follow your own path anyway."
The circus elephant affectionately wrapped his trunk around the elephant man.
"I followed my heart," the man said, "Even though all my friends said joining a circus would lead me only in trouble."
"Did it?" Tommy asked.
"Well - if you say owning your own circus is trouble, I guess they were right," the man laughed.
"You own this whole circus?" Tommy's eyes were the size of saucers.
"I do. And I love owning it. Only because I listened to my own heart and not others, I have had such an adventure filled life. And lots of fun too!"
Tommy watched the circus elephants quietly for a while, all standing there with a rope around the ankle. Great giants who could have walked away from the circus any time, but didn´t because they believed they couldn´t.
"Time to go, Tommy. Dinner is waiting," grandfather said.
They walked away, hand in hand, turning to wave at the elephant man before disappearing behind one of the tents, little Tommy deep in his thoughts.
Have you ever stopped to review your old habits? You might not even pay attention to limiting thoughts in your life. It could be you don't dry to draw because at school someone said you can't. Or you don't go and study something that interests you because someone said you are stupid.
We all have had such things said to us. The question is - why do you choose to believe them? What if the people who said those things saw potential in you and were envious of your possibilities? Or said those things to you before you had a chance to learn how to do things? Hardly anyone is successful without practice.
So have a look at why you don't do things you like. Ask, why is that. And if you are interested in something - go ahead and try!