#17 Elephants and Beliefs

Updated: Apr 13

In Burma, elephants were used to haul huge teak logs through the dense forests to the river bank where they could then be floated down river to the sawmill.

These elephants were captured in the wild when very young and, whilst still small and relatively weak, were tethered by a leg to a bush with a rope. Struggle as they might the young elephant would not be strong enough to get free. Eventually they would stop struggling and finally accept that there was no escape.

Later in life, the now grown up and massive elephants, would haul huge teak logs, which might weigh as much as 4 tons, through the forest all day.

At night the elephant would once more be tethered to a bush with the same rope as when they were young.

The now adult elephant could have easily broken free of their bonds with one simple step, however they were so conditioned that to try to break free was futile that they no longer even tried.

The elephants’ beliefs were now at odds with the actual reality of their life and kept them imprisoned.

We as human beings have many self -limiting beliefs that we learned in our upbringing that are also at odds with the reality of life. These beliefs tend to keep us smaller than our true nature

Here’s an example of this.


Jennifer’s mother is often hurtful to her but rather than come to the logical conclusion that ‘My mother is unkind’ Jennifer will be much more likely to come to the more generalised conclusion that “I am bad” or that “people are unkind”

What do you think these beliefs might do to her life as Jennifer grows up?


Can you identify one self limiting belief that you have? How do you think this belief is influencing the course of your life? How might your life be different without it?