A very wise old man lives on the edge of a high cliff. Many people came to ask his advice. They always listen to what he has to say. The old man sees that all the people have wings. The can all fly. The people who come to him for advice cannot see their own wings. On this one topic, they refuse to believe him. He often talks them into coming close to the edge of the cliff. He tells them to jump, that they can fly. In fear, they run away. He again talks them into returning to the edge of the cliff. He assures them they can fly. As usual, they run away in fear. They listen to everything he has to tell them. They follow his advice for he is surely a wise man. Yet, they continued to be afraid to fly.
One day, one of the people decided to jump. To the amazement of all that watched, he flew. Still they did not believe. They believed that just because one could fly, it did not mean they could. Again, they left in fear. Slowly, one at a time, others began to jump and to fly. They could see what the old man meant. They could see that everyone had wings and could fly. As time passed, many flew and many stayed afraid. The old wise man that lived on the edge of the cliff continued to tell them all of their wings and their ability to fly.
This story, or one very similar, is very common in all cultures. It contains a truth that we all know but are afraid to put into action. This is the plight of counselors, therapists, motivators, and activists. We can see the wings on others, but we cannot always get them to fly. We can talk them into approaching the edge of the cliff. We can tell them they have wings and we believe in their abilities. It is their decision to jump and fly or remain in fear. Why not just push them over the edge? Some people would overcome their fear and fly. Others would hold onto their fear and fall to their deaths. Besides, to fly or not is the choice of the individual.
What does this story mean? The wings represent our abilities. We have whatever we need inside us already. We are whole, there is nothing lacking. To fly is our goal. We may want to fly towards success or into some-one's arms. We have what we need to reach our goals. Yet, our fears hold us back.
As a child, I remember the story of the Emperor's New Clothes. In this story, everyone can see the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. He thinks he has a new set of beautiful clothes, but he does not. His beliefs limit him. Everyone around him joins the conspiracy by not telling him. Eventually, as it always happens, a young innocent child speaks the truth. We have such limiting beliefs. These self-imposed limits create our fears and stop us from flying or truly getting a new set of "clothes."
I often ask my clients how they create their fears. They usually look puzzled since they do not know they created them themselves. Fears come from our fantasies. We may be afraid to jump because in our fantasy we believe we cannot fly and will indeed fall to our deaths. On the other hand, we may fantasize that if we speak up and tell the Emperor that he is naked he will punish or banish us. Therefore, we silently just stand there, never flying and never speaking our minds. We live knowing the truth but never speaking it or acting on it. We may even fool ourselves into believing it, but it does not make it any less true.
Many couples have problems when one person begins to speak the truth or wants to fly. They fear the other person will hold them back and not be willing to fly. The other person fears both flight and abandonment. Once you know you have wings, you will resent anyone attempting to stop you from flying. As the wise old man and the young innocent child will tell you, no one can stop you from flying but you. Likewise, no one can make you fly but you.
We can fly together and we can nest together. We can wear beautiful clothes together and be naked together. We can speak the truth together and be silent together. At other times, it is perfectly okay for one to fly and one to stay on the cliff. While one speaks his or her truths, someone must be silent to listen. Every bird needs a place to return and rest. Every voice needs an ear to listen. We can balance and support each other without doing exactly as the other does.
Some people see themselves as caterpillars in a cocoon waiting to become beautiful butterflies. Others know the truth. You are already a beautiful butterfly. You already have wings and know how to fly.
Thanks for listening as I speak my truths. Now it is time for you to speak. Thanks for sharing the edge of the cliff with me. Now it is time for you to fly. Jump, you have wings, you can fly.
Lynn Seiser, PhD, MFCC, is an internationally respected psychotherapist, consultant, speaker and writer with more than twenty years of direct clinical experience in recovery counseling for offenders and victims of violence, trauma and abuse. He is also known for his work in "holistic" recovery from addictions and his emphasis on "healthy" relationships. He offers 11 web pages at http://members.aol.com/SeiserL/index.html and can be e-mailed at SeiserL@AOL.com . To discuss the benefits of his services, to make a referral, or to make an appointment, contact him at 550 Pacific Coast Hwy. #203, Seal Beach, CA 90740 or call (562) 799-1371.
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