A Life Lesson We Can All Learn from Circus Elephants

By Rachel Puryear

Ever been to the circus? If so, watching the animals perform is always an amazing part of the show. You might have also wondered where the circus gets these animals, and how they are trained for performance.

There are wildlife rescue organizations around the world who take in orphaned baby animals and care for them, as such little creatures are often not yet equipped to survive on their own in the wild. In many parts of the world, these organizations are greatly underfunded, and a hefty donation to them can go a long way.

Circus managers will sometimes travel to parts of the world where elephants live, and take home a baby elephant in exchange for a nice donation to the organization.

When the circus managers get the baby elephants home, they begin training them for the circus life.

Elephants performing at the circus. By Becky Phan.

While an elephant in training as a baby, the trainers will place a collar around the elephant’s neck, and the collar will be attached to a chain and stake. This will prevent the baby elephant from being able to move around freely and escape. Eventually, the baby elephant will give up trying to escape, and submit to the trainers, because they will have learned that they are unable to escape.

An adult elephant, however, is one of the largest and most powerful animals on the planet. They are capable of not only easily escaping this sort of confinement, but they could also easily crush anyone who gets in their way.

So why doesn’t a baby elephant try to escape once they reach adulthood? Why do they still continue to remain confined, even when they could easily physically overpower any human?

Because they learned early on that they could not escape, and that belief that they cannot escape still stays with them. Even when they are long past the point where the confinement that held them back as a baby could still possibly restrain them anymore. They are conditioned to believe that they cannot escape, and they don’t realize that that’s changed now that they are much bigger and stronger.

So, what lessons can humans learn from this? Particularly, humans who feel stuck in life, and believe that they cannot do better than where they are at right now?

Think about the metaphorical chained collars that still bind you – in your mind, that is. What lessons did you learn early on in your life that no longer serve you, and that don’t actually hold you back now that you are bigger and stronger – but that you might believe still hold you back?

Are you feeling stuck in life, but aren’t sure how to get past something holding you back? Want to talk to someone who’s also been there? Reach out here for a no-charge, confidential consultation (remotely) with an experienced life coach. A fresh perspective can be tremendously helpful.


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to overcoming what used to hold us back, starting with realizing that it doesn’t have to hold us back anymore. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

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