Seeing the best in life's challenges

Raised by Wolves

on July 7, 2013

Have you ever watched a dog tied on a lead in an area where there are a bunch of obstacles?  I recently spent some time doing that, and of course it had me thinking.  A dog is not aware, not able to step back and look at the big picture of what is going on.  They are tied up to that rope, which is anchored into the ground, so they wander around within their circle, stopped each time they come to the edge of the circle that binds them.  They wander, and get tangled in the various obstacles within their circle, and it doesn’t take long before you see them with very little wiggle room.  Their freedom, which initially was only limited by the length of the rope, is now much more severely limited because of their movement within the obstacles, and by the fact that the dog does not think about the interactions or consequences of their movements, the fact that they are on a rope, and the fact that the rope gets caught up on the obstacles. 

This can be hard to watch, as the dog winds himself around the same chairs and sticks, over and over again.  The dog is not aware, so it does not learn to avoid the obstacles, or to backtrack, to keep from being tangled.  When it ends up with just a couple feet of rope keeping it from moving, it is not very happy or comfortable.

So when we see this happen to a dog we feel responsible for, we untangle the rope to give it more freedom.  Then, most of the time, the dog just repeats the process and nothing ever changes.

Now think, metaphorically of course, that this is not a dog at all, but a child that was “raised by wolves”, a person that has been living unaware, like the dog we were watching.  This person is tied to a rope, maybe a set of limiting beliefs, a paradigm, a set of assumptions that the person never questions.  They live in a circle that is defined by their rope, which is anchored in a certain spot.  It has never occurred to this person to question the rope or where it is dug into the ground.  This is all he knows.

This person might encounter obstacles that, when wrapped around, restrict his freedom and “tie him down” further.  If he isn’t aware of this process, then he may get in a tight spot, without the ability to untangle himself.  If you are watching this process and you feel responsible for this person, or if you have compassion and care about their comfort, you will probably get involved and help them get untangled.  If you can see their rope and how they got tangled around those obstacles, then you might try to explain to them what you see.  But if they are still unable to think this way, they will probably repeat their previous behavior and get themselves tied up yet again.

Some will learn that there are others around them that are very good at untangling their problems.  They might become very dependent on these people.  When they get frustrated at the restrictions they create, they can become very demanding of those who are always there to “save” them.  So think about this:  is “saving” this type of person over and over, really helping them, or is it really just ensuring that they will remain on their rope indefinitely?

People who are unaware remain in the same patterns, restricted by the rope of their paradigm, tangled up in the same obstacles over and over again.  Because they are not thinking about how their actions and choices interact with the world around them, they are unable to learn and therefore change their situations.  Because they do not question their paradigm, they forget that, unlike a dog, they have opposable thumbs and they are able to untie themselves from the rope to gain complete freedom. 

Some people will learn that they can avoid obstacles, or will get very good at untangling themselves when they do get stuck, but they will continue to assume that there is no way to dig up the rope or untie it.  In real life, this may look like someone who follows a set of rules that “works” within their personal paradigm, their personal circle.  They will be very good at navigating life, but they will not be completely free.

Incomplete freedom may or may not be bothersome.  Some people are very comfortable within their safe, known, predictable circle.  Many are afraid of what is outside the circle.  Maybe they have been told over and over about the bad guys that exist outside their circle, or the terrible consequences of questioning the circle to begin with. 

But others may be unable to shake that nagging feeling that they can’t get completely rid of that rope.   They may not be able to put their finger on what is wrong, they just may have an underlying frustration or unhappiness.  Do you know anyone who fits this description?

The answer here is not to just untie the dog.  After all, if the dog on the rope isn’t smart or aware enough to navigate his own circle, then we know we don’t want him running loose out in the greater world.  He might get run over by a car or lost when he wanders without any restrictions.  We either have to teach that dog to obey commands to keep it safe, or we have to keep it on its lead.

With people, they can remain “safe” on the rope of their paradigm.  And they can still remain safe outside of their circle if they “obey” someone else who tells them what to do when they encounter life outside their circle.  But that’s still not true freedom.

People can grow beyond their restrictions, and it’s important to remember that this happens step by step.  They can become aware of the whole process and take initiative and responsibility for their own actions and choices, and the consequences that result.  They can open their minds and hearts and learn to function in a world without ropes and circles.



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