c o s h r i n k

Be Smarter Than an Amoeba

Posted on: February 28, 2011

A friend told me that if you poke an amoeba with a pin it will immediately freeze, stop moving. When the danger seems to have past, it will begin moving again. But if you poke it continually it will eventually stop moving altogether and die off.

OK, I would hope we are all “smarter” than an amoeba…except I see the human equivalent of this behavior happen every day.

When people encounter something they are fearful of, something they believe threatens their emotional world, they contract. They seem to immediately freeze, quit taking in new data, build a wall around themselves, and revert to some old pattern of behavior that they have probably done over and over. They then feel “safe”, because they imagine they can “control” what happens and bring their lives back into the state they are used to. Sort of like the amoeba freezing.

However, usually that is the absolute WORST thing they can do. Usually the “threat” has arisen because something they are doing isn’t working. In order to address the threat, what they need to do is to relax, observe and understand the feedback they are getting, and be open to trying new approaches to get a different result.

But all that requires you to do the very scariest things — be open, ask for help, try something you haven’t perfected and might not be good at yet…and wait to see what happens. These all can be very hard to do when you are scared. but it’s the only thing likely to get a different result.

Remember, the amoeba dies if it freezes too many times. What might happen to you if you never break out of your frozen patterns?

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