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Caged By Our Conditioning

Why do we do the things we do, even when we don’t want to do them?

We’ve been trained.

If you think you are different from a puppy or a circus lion, I’m afraid you are wrong. We have all been trained to behave in certain ways from the time we are born, right up until today.

Some of this training is helpful, even necessary. Don’t run out into the street without looking both ways. Say please, thank you and show respect to your elders.

But some of this training can mutate into unhelpful behaviors.

Showing respect for your elders can morph into never speaking up for yourself, even when YOU are the one being disrespected. Being careful and safe can morph into never taking a chance to do something that makes you happy.

We can become caged by our conditioning.

The story of Mohini the white tiger tragically illustrates this point.

Mohini, a rare white tiger, lived at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. She became a star attraction at the zoo in the 1960’s. Because of Mohini’s popularity, the zoo decided to build her a more elaborate enclosure, giving her the space to roam free in a more natural habitat. While her enclosure was being built, Mohini lived in a 12x12 foot cage with bars and a cement floor.

The day the zoo released Mohini into her new habitat, the magnificent tiger when straight to the corner and paced back and forth in a 12x12 foot space. Mohini was surrounded by rolling hills, a pond, and trees, but she never explored her space. She stayed in the 12x12 foot corner for the rest of her life.

Mohini became caged by her conditioning.

How can you relate to Mohini? What does your 12x12 cage look like? What’s keeping you stuck?

Our cages can take many forms:

  • Outdated thinking

  • Negative habits

  • Comfortable routines

  • Fear of change

  • The need for outside approval

  • Feelings of unworthiness

  • Limiting beliefs

Here’s the fantastic are free to leave the cage!

Awareness is the key to unlocking the cage. Once you are aware that something is keeping you stuck, you can decide to change it.

Deciding to change is how you open the unlocked door. Once you decide to change, you can take action to make a new reality.

Action is taking that first step out the door. Once you take that step, you can take another, and another, and another, and soon, you are exploring your new habitat.

Awareness – What’s keeping you stuck? Decision – I am going to change... Action – The first step I will take is...

Here’s my own experience getting out of my cage a few years ago:

Awareness – I am afraid to take chances because I am afraid of rejection. This fear is keeping me from growing my business and helping more people.

Decision – I am tired of being afraid. I want something different for myself and I am willing to face my fear so I can grow past this.

Action – I will hire a coach to dig deep into what this fear is costing me so I can move past it and create the success I want in my life.

I continue to use this strategy. We are always learning, always growing. As we overcome one cage, another is revealed, but the process gets easier and our cages become less intimidating.

Let Mohini’s life be a lesson to us all.

In what ways are you caged by your conditioning? How is this outdated thinking and behavior impacting your life and your results? What action can you take today to change it?

tiger in a cage

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