Stories have been around for generations. They can teach us right and wrong, about good and evil and steer us in the right direction. Metaphors are an indirect way to get the mind thinking and to influence behaviour. I love using stories in my work with both children and adults as profound changes can occur.
If you find that you're the kind of person who is easily influenced by others, I heard a story recently that is for you. So if you're sitting comfortably, I'll begin.
In an ancient time, long ago, an old man and his youngest son were taking their wares to market. It was a long walk from home but they were fortunate enough to have a donkey to carry their goods to sell. They had been walking for hours and as they were approaching the town, the old man could see that his son was tiring and so he told his son to climb on to the donkey for the last part of the journey.
They soon reached the market town, which was surrounded by walls with two guards standing either side of the arched entrance. As they passed through the archway, the guards whispered to each other, 'Look at that poor old man. He is tired and weary after a long journey, and yet his son rides the donkey. It is just not right'.
Hearing this, the man turned to his young son and instructed him to get down from the donkey and walk and he then climbed up onto the donkey. They continued on into the town and passed a cafe with tables outside on the street. At one of these tables sat a couple of old women, who watched them pass, saying 'That poor boy. His selfish father rides the donkey, whilst he is made to walk alongside with his tired little legs. It is just not right'.
The old man hears this and so he tells his son to also climb up on the donkey and sit in front of him. As they move away from the cafe, the cafe owner is standing in the doorway and says to himself, 'well that is just animal abuse. That poor old donkey, made to carry the old man, his son and all of their provisions. It's just not right.'
The old man once again overheard. He quickly got down from the donkey, lifted down his son and then unloaded all of the provisions onto his shoulders and those of his son. They continued on their journey to the market place in the centre of the town.
When they reached the market, the old man became aware of all of the other market stall holders laughing. They were laughing and pointing at him and his son and saying to each other 'Look at that old fool and his son. They have a donkey and they don't know how to use it! They are letting the donkey walk by itself whilst they carry all of the provisions. It's ridiculous.'
And the man realised that he truly had been foolish. He had been so busy listening to others and allowing them to influence his decisions that he had ended up carrying a heavy load for his donkey! He decided in that moment to trust his own judgement.
We have so many outside influences in our lives and the media is always telling us how we should be doing things. But we know best. With all of our resources, capability and experience we should feel empowered to go with our instinct and believe in the decisions that we make. People will always be quick to judge but that doesn't mean that we have to listen. Trust yourself.