Achieve More By Unlearning Your Past

Take  look at this picture.

Besides an elephant tied to a stick, what do you see? Did you laugh when you saw the stick to which the elephant is tied to? I did. I mean, seriously, look at the mountain of muscle and raw power, which is just what an elephant is, being held by that puny little thing. How long do you guess that it would take for the elephant to rip that twig right out of the ground or just stomp it to a hundred little pieces?

Strange thing is that the elephant never does either of those things. Elephant handlers, in the wild and captivity, use this trick all the time. They tie the beast to something that is no match to the elephant’s strength while being certain that the elephant will stay put. This is the result of years of behavioral training. When the elephant is young, very young that is, they tie it to an immovable thing like a concrete beam, or large tree trunk using an extremely durable rope. The animal keeps trying to free itself from the bondage but finds itself unable to do so. Day in and day out the young elephant tries to break free and fails and then, eventually, comes to the conclusion that it is impossible. The handlers do this until the elephant reaches early adulthood. The power of the elephant has now grown massively which would require a much stronger leash but the handlers know they don’t need it. They know that just a simple stick or a log would be sufficient because they have made the elephant believe that the rope is too strong. The elephant has learned over its lifetime that it is impossible to break the rope and so it simply gives up. It believes that it cannot do it so it doesn’t even try.

This is much more common in people too. Often times we stop ourselves from doing things that we want simply because we think we cannot do it. We tie ourselves to imaginary shackles believing we can never break free. We find some good logic to convince ourselves too. It goes something like this- You have done similar things in the past but they resulted in failure and therefore you are bound to fail this time as well. Many people around you, people who are smarter and successful than you, have confirmed that logic by judging you and your actions and there is no reason to believe you will be successful all of a sudden. Just like the elephant we believe that we are simply incapable.

The fatal flaw in this logic is that you have not considered all the progress you have made since then. You have learned so much from your experiences and gained lot of skills since then. You have grown to be a stronger and much more capable person than you were before and, if you try, the results are sure to be different this time. But this needs a lot of forgetting of the past, which is sometimes not that easy. Our failures have a way of sticking with us for a long time and it can be hard to start believing in ourselves after a heart breaking one. But, unlike the elephant, we have the power to take control of our emotions and beliefs.

Once you unlearn your past failures and start believing that your potential is infinite you will also realize that the past actions and past people are just weak sticks and thin ropes. A little yank and they wither into pieces.

And then you will realize that you are infinitely more capable than you ever thought.

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