The elephant and the rope

Piccole letture in chiave umoristica e/o filosofica

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When elephant trainers catch a baby elephant in India, they tie one of its legs to a short post with a rope to stop it from running away. For days the baby elephant struggles to get free, trying to break the rope or uproot the post, until eventually it realises that its struggle is in vain and it gives up.
As the baby elephant grows into an adult elephant, the trainer continues to keep one of its legs tied to the same short post with the same piece of rope to stop it from running away.
At this point, the adult elephant could easily break the rope or uproot the post and run away, but it does not. It has developed a condition known as “learned helplessness“: a self-imposed condition, resulting from repeated failure in the past, that stops an animal or a person from carrying out an action that is in fact within its capabilities.
“Learned helplessness” keeps us prisoners of our past failures. It convinces us that we are not good enough, that we do not have what it takes, that we will never find the right partner, that we will never get a better job, that we will never be able to speak English with confidence.

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Author: Tony

Born and raised in Malaysia between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Educated at Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, England. Living in the foothills of Mount Etna since 1982 and teaching English at Catania University since 1987.

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