In many parts of India, elephants are used for manual labor; it is a tradition that has been a part of their culture for thousands of years.
Now although they are relatively peaceful animals, elephants are incredibly strong and can be difficult to control, as they can weigh eight thousand pounds or more once fully grown.
To deal with this, handlers developed a method that allows them to “condition” elephants while they are still young.
This conditioning involves tying a young elephant’s legs to a stake in the ground with a very thick rope, which prevents it from moving more than a few feet.
Whenever the baby elephant attempts to break free, it discovers that the rope is too strong. Although the elephant may attempt several times to escape, over time it eventually gives up and accepts its fate.
As the elephant grows to its full size, it continues to accept the idea that the rope prevents it from being free, even when the strong rope is replaced with a flimsier version.
With this belief firmly in place, the handlers can restrain a full-sized elephant easily with very small ropes and little supervision.
Now, it is easy to see that elephants and human beings are completely different; however, this story shows how conditioning can keep an animal clearly superior to humans in strength and size under control.
The reality of this example is that the elephant can walk away at any time and that it would be pretty difficult for its handlers to stop it if it chose to do so. It is its belief system that tells it walking away is impossible, and so it stays captive for the rest of its life.
No, we are not elephants, but just like them, many of us create limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world at a young age. We base them on mostly inaccurate information, and it is these beliefs that are the cause of many of our present problems.