Do you know about trained fleas? Here is what was discovered…taking an ordinary jar and placing a bunch of fleas into it, it was found that the fleas would wildly begin to jump in all directions, including out of the jar, no matter how high the sides of the jar. Try it someday if you are curious enough or just begin to observe yourself in your own life as a bit of a trained flea.
This could be likened to how we experience the world as children…with a “YAY!!! LET’S LIVE OUR LIVES FULLY!!! OUCH, I FELL DOWN AND IT HURT BUT SO WHAT? WHAT’S NEXT??!!” Remember those days full of vitality, joy and full self-expression?
Back to the jar of fleas; if one takes a lid and puts it on top of the jar, the fleas will continue to jump up against the lid until they realize that there is something in the way of their full self-expression of jumping. Perhaps their little heads begin to hurt, and they actually start to scale back slowly until they begin to regularly jump to just below the level of the lid.
At this point, it was found that one could remove the lid of the jar and the fleas would still only jump to those few millimeters below where the lid had been. The fleas were now trained and would not jump out of the jar.
Looking back into our own lives, we ask ourselves where we have been trained. Where might we have scaled back for the fear of hurting our ‘heads’ on a lid? This may be a situation that was real or imagined. Perhaps the lesson was well worth learning such as touching a hot stove was a bad mistake.
However, where might a lid might have been placed on your full self-expression that was for the convenience of another and not specifically for you. For example, rather than focus on what would happen to you, a caretaker was more fearful of what could happen. Or perhaps we made a mistake in one situation and automatically trained ourselves that we could never attempt that type of situation again.
We might begin to ask ourselves, where have we suppressed our own and others’ full self- expression such that we have become trained fleas in our lives and accepted “this is the way it is” regardless of a different time, a different place, a different situation…?
We may not even realize the extent of how we are similar to trained fleas. When an opportunity presents itself to us, we may automatically answer with an “I could never do that,” or “I don’t like those,” or “Oh, that’s not for me,” or even an answer such as “Are you kidding?” Consider how we may be so automatic that we are not even aware of having been trained. What would happen if with each opportunity we stopped our automatic way-of-being and really put some thought into what was being presented to us before we responded?
The holidays are approaching quickly and many of us will have the opportunity to share time with family. This is perfect fertile territory for beginning to observe ourselves as the observer in our automatic ‘trained fleas’ way-of-being in life.
The first step to altering a way-of-being is to learn to observe you in your own life. In the next month, begin to observe your conversations to yourself and to others, and how your automatic ‘trained flea” ways of responding show up in your thoughts or conversations.
If you don’t catch yourself in the middle of it, look back on the conversations or moods that you have noticed were not the most beneficial to your full self-expression.
What happened? How were you stopped or suppressed? Where did you stop yourself? What stopped you? Was something said by someone else that triggered your suppression? When was the first time in your life that you noticed a similar situation? How old were you? What were you doing? Did someone say something to you? How is it similar to today? How is it not similar? Based on your age today, how long have you been living from a suppressed way-of-being rather than living into your full self-expression?
In taking on the exercise, where might you have now gained freedom to be fully self-expressed where you may not have been before? Do let me know what you find out practicing this exercise.