The circus is fun.
Well, I don’t know much about circuses and this article isn’t about judging the circus and its people.
However, there’s an imaginary circus that we sometimes create and live inside of it.
In terms of self-esteem, it’s bad to live in such circus.
And here’s the catch.
Sometimes you don’t even realize that you’re living in a circus.
After reading this article you should know what this circus looks like and whether you’re living in it or not. And yeah, how to leave it if you find that you are actually living in it.
Let’s get into it.
Are you a lion?
There’s a difference between the lion that lives in the jungle and the lion that performs in the circus.
You probably know about the life of the normal lions, so let’s talk about those lions in the circus.
First, they are usually brought young. We need to train them to be submissive to humans. The younger they are, the easier that will be.
So they grow up conditioned to submission. They obey their coaches. They jump around and live inside their tiny cages.
And that’s not the worst part yet.
The worst part is the treatment. There are rumors that aren’t put to rest about the big cats being mistreated in the circus. That’s one.
Two, living inside of cages and jumping around for applause isn’t what lions are made for. Impressing a group of strangers isn’t what lions should do. And, indeed, getting approval from a coach isn’t every day’s lion activity.
You see, the real lifestyle of lions is different. They don’t perform to impress; they hunt. They are not guided by a ‘coach’; they lead their way through jungle and life.
All of that is gone in the circus.
Unfortunately, it’s not only lions.
Are you a bear?
Bears are strong.
But also there’s a difference between the real bears and those that perform in the circus.
Again, they are usually brought to the circus young. We need to condition them to act in a specific way, and that’s better done while they are young.
They perform to an audience. They please, and follow, their coach.
But just as the lions, this is not who they really are.
They were just conditioned to live this way. And living this way had cost them not only their dignity but also their real life and identities.
They all should be out there in the jungle living as real lions and real bears, not performing shows to entertain people.
But again, it’s not only lions or bears.
Are you an elephant?
When I started reading about self-development, there was a story that I’d heard a lot.
It’s about how elephants are brought to the circus.
And while I’m not quite sure about its accuracy, it makes perfect sense.
Elephants are also brought young. And it’s important to do that because those are big dudes that can smash the whole circus if they decide to do a little dance there.
The story suggests that they get the elephants young and tie them to a heavy steel ball using a heavy chain. No matter how hard the elephants try to run, they can’t because the ball is too heavy and they are still young.
After trying thousands of times, they eventually give up and stop trying to get away.
As soon as that happens, they let go of that chain. And the elephant rarely tries to escape again.
That’s why you find huge elephants tied to small steel balls. If you think about it, they can easily run away; it’s not like this chain will stop them from destroying the place.
But the thing is that they’ve been conditioned that no matter how hard they try, it’s impossible to run away.
So, they stay.
They do as they are told. They carry people and things and, just like the lions and the bears, perform and please.
The biggest consequence is losing their true identity and staying a prisoner to the life of performing to other people and pleasing other people who don’t give a whoop about them.
But, again and again, it’s not only the elephants or the bears or the lions.
What about humans?
Some humans have similar stories to those stories of the lions and the bears and the elephants.
They were conditioned, in a certain way, to perform and please, all that while tolerating mistreatment and probably disrespect.
Sad, but true.
And yes, they were brought young. From an early age, they were conditioned to behave this way. And they grew older holding all these negative and limiting beliefs.
They have a coach (or coaches).
They follow this coach and make sure this coach is happy about their performance. Upsetting this coach will damage their lives negatively, or so they think!
They perform for an audience. They must get the applause. Their self-worth depends on these claps and approval either from their coach or this audience of strangers who don’t really give a shit about their self-esteem or even life.
Just like the lions, they live in cages and their lives depend on the approval of the audience and the coach. Just like the bears, they perform and please. And just like the elephants, they can’t get away because they think the chain is stronger than them.
The lions are the kings of the jungle.
The bears are symbols of strength and power.
They are strong and proud. They live their lives depending on themselves. They are not submissive, they can’t be.
They are hunters. They are free. And they don’t have to worry about an audience or a coach; they don’t have to perform and make fun around.
Elephants are strong. They live a specific life in the jungle. They are also free. They are strong enough to walk away from that damn circus. The chain which is holding them is imaginary.
Humans are free and strong. They don’t have to worry about performing and pleasing. They don’t have to be prisoners there, to people’s opinions, and get the mistreatment and the disrespect.
It’s just a matter of conditioning.
But this conditioning isn’t the real identity of those wonderful creatures. They’re still lions, bears, elephants, and humans.
Deep inside, the lions are still lions. They still can hunt and be dominant. The bears are still strong bears. The elephants are still as strong as they are.
That’s why we sometimes hear tragic stories about a lion or a bear or an elephant that rebels and hurts those in the circus.
And humans are still as capable and powerful as they are. They still can be emotionally strong and dominant and powerful.
And, unlike the animals, they can be kind and merciful in a beautifully strong way, so that with this kindness, they can feel compassionate enough towards themselves and the world to positively influence it in tangibly life-changing ways.
They have the power to feel worthy. They have the power to be fearless. They have the power to be a life-changing-presence for those around them.
Being in a circus doesn’t change who you actually are. It just makes you use it less and be someone else –a weaker version of you. But it’s just a conditioning. And you can overcome it.
The real you
While animals go to the circus by force, humans usually have a choice.
Animals are just caught and brought and sold.
For humans, it’s a bit different because humans do have the power of choice.
Some humans were dealt a bad hand. Their childhood was bad enough to condition them to behave and live in this disempowering way.
Some chose to go to the circus by themselves. They assumed that they can hide their real selves right there. They believed that if people clapped for them, they would be worthy and good.
In other words, the circus is just a cover-up. They hide who they are inside that circus by performing and pleasing. All of that because they believe that who they really isn’t that beautiful.
In either case, they still have the choice.
They are strong enough to break the chains and destroy the cages. They don’t have to be there performing and pleasing just for people to clap for them. Instead, they can be who they truly are –strong, worthy, and capable of getting love and respect through connection, not through pleasing and performing.
Just as the lions are still lions, and just as the bears are still bears, and just as the elephants are still strong, humans are still strong.
I wouldn’t like to be a lion that performs in the circus. I would rather be a real lion.
So, I would also rather be a strong human who doesn’t perform in order to please, who doesn’t live in a circus to hide who he really is and to collect applause and claps.
What about you?
(Note: this post isn’t to judge the circus’ lifestyle or ethics, though I honestly disagree with abusing animals and mistreating them. And of course, this post is not to judge the people who work in the circus or make a mockery of them. I used the term ‘circus’ just to deliver a point. It’s just a metaphor; a concept to illustrate how seeking approval can be harmful. So, I mean no offense to anyone and I apologize if I did offend anyone.)