May 25: Don’t Be A Flea

A good friend once told me this story, and I’ve never forgotten it:

As a small boy, I once watched something amazing.  An older gentleman had a glass mason jar with 10 fleas in it.  The lid was on tight.  He gathered a bunch of us kids around to show us an experiment.
He held the glass jar above an open flame.  Almost immediately, the fleas began trying to escape the pain of the flames by jumping away from the heat.  This resulted in a, “tink, tink,” as their little bodies started to hit the lid at the top of the jar.  Almost as soon as it started, however, it stopped.  The old man asked, “What do you observe?”  One of the older kids said, “They are jumping away from the flames and started hitting their heads on the lid, but why did they stop hitting their heads?”

The fleas were responding to pain.  They didn’t want to feel pain from the flames, so they immediately started jumping, over and over, to get away from the heat.  They didn’t want to feel the pain from the lid they were jumping into, so they immediately learned just exactly how high to jump in order to not feel the pain from the lid.

The old man then did something curious.  He opened the lid.  The kids were confused, and so was I, as we watched the fleas continue to jump only high enough to get away from the flames, and just under where the lid used to be.  All of us were wondering why the fleas wouldn’t jump out of the jar.  When we asked the old man, he told us, “Just like in life, these fleas are so focused on not getting hurt that they don’t take any risks.  They choose not to take any chances.  Sometimes, it is important to push through the pain and take the risk of getting hurt, just to see if circumstances have changed.  They almost always do.”

Pain is a gift.  It is simply information, data, and feedback, which when we process, can then be used to recalibrate and make necessary adjustments, so we can try again.  We were NEVER meant to stop trying, again and again.

When we stop trying, and stick to doing the same things, over and over, we stop learning and growing.  Since we all have a program installed within us at birth to learn, grow, and experience as much as we all can, we sometimes choose to be courageous enough to try again, or to try something different.

Have you ever seen a tree grow HALF?  Have you ever known a tree or a plant or a flower grow half as tall, half as deep, half as large as it could be?  We, as humans, do it all the time, but EVERYTHING else in nature blossoms and grows to its full potential.  WE CAN TOO.

Today I will remember the story of the fleas and remember that it is okay to risk the pain of getting hurt to take chances.  I’ve spent my life in a glass jar.  The lid has long since been taken off and the whole universe is open to me.

I believe that the answer to ALL things is LOVE.  Self love is the best place to start.  Melody Beattie writes about the importance of self love, and perfecting the art and practice of unconditionally loving ourselves, and just why it is the most important thing we can do, in her book, THE LANGUAGE OF LETTING GO:

May 25-Loving Ourselves Unconditionally:

Love yourself into health and a good life of your own.

Love yourself into relationships that work for you and the other person. Love yourself into peace, happiness, joy, success, and contentment.

Love yourself into all that you always wanted. We can stop treating ourselves the way others treated us if they behaved in a less than healthy, desirable way. If we have learned to see ourselves critically, conditionally, and in a diminishing and punishing way, it’s time to stop. Other people treated us that way, but it’s even worse to treat ourselves that way now.

Loving ourselves may seem foreign, even foolish at times. People may accuse us of being selfish. We don’t have to believe them.

People who love themselves are truly able to love others and let others love them. People who love themselves and hold themselves in high esteem are those who give the most, contribute the most, and love the most.

How do we love ourselves? By forcing it, at first. By faking it, if necessary. By acting as if. By working as hard at loving and liking ourselves as we have at not liking ourselves.

Explore what it means to love yourself.

Do things for yourself that reflect compassionate, nurturing, self love.

Embrace and love all of yourself – past, present, and future. Forgive yourself quickly and as often as necessary. Encourage yourself. Tell yourself good things about yourself.

If we think and believe negative ideas, get them out in the open quickly and honestly, so we can replace those beliefs with better ones.

Pat yourself on the back when necessary. Discipline yourself when necessary. Ask for help, for time; ask for what you need.

Sometimes give yourself treats. Do not treat yourself like a pack mule, always pushing and driving harder. Learn to be good to yourself. Choose behaviors with preferable consequences – treating yourself well is one.

Learn to stop your pain, even when that means making difficult decisions. Do not unnecessarily deprive yourself. Sometimes give yourself what you want, just because you want it.

Stop explaining and justifying yourself. When you make mistakes, let them go. We learn, we grow, and we learn some more. And through it all, we love ourselves.

We work at it, and then work at it some more. One day we’ll wake up, look in the mirror, and find that loving ourselves has become habitual. We’re now living with a person who gives and receives love, because that person loves him or herself. Self-love will take hold and become a guiding force in our life.

Today, I will work at loving myself. I will work as hard at loving myself as I have at not liking myself. Help me let go of self-hate and behaviors that reflect not liking myself. Help me replace those with behaviors that reflect self-love. Today, Higher Power, help me hold myself in high self-esteem. Help me know I’m lovable and capable of giving and receiving love.

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Remember:  Mindset matters.  Character counts.  That which we choose to consistently focus on is what EXPANDS in our lives.  WE CREATE our personal realities.

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