Aesop lived between 620 and 564 BC, yet the fables he told are as pertinent today as they were when original. I guess that says a lot about how little human nature has changed in the intervening 2000-odd years. His stories so elegantly illustrate how a person's attitude determines their happiness or misery and their success or failure, that I sometimes use them with my clients to provide a metaphor for their situation and the impact their attitudes and beliefs might be having upon it.
One of my favourites is the story of the miller, his son and their donkey . It goes like this:
A miller and his son were driving their donkey to a neighbouring fair to sell him. They had not gone far when they met a group of women laughing and talking. "Look at that" one of them called, "did you ever see such a thing? Two people trudging along the road, when they have a donkey to ride!" The old miller, on hearing this, quickly made his son get onto the donkey and they continued their journey, the miller walking alongside.
Shortly, they came across a group of old men having a serious debate. "There," said one of them, "that proves exactly what I was saying. The young have no respect for the old. See that young lad riding on a donkey while his old father has to walk?" He then turned to the son and said "Get down you lazy boy and let your father rest his weary legs." The miller, on hearing this, told his son to get off, and he got onto the donkey. They continued their journey to the fair.
A little while later they met some women with a group of children. Several of them cried out "You lazy old man! How can you ride on the donkey while that poor young boy has to nearly run to keep up?" The miller, looked at his son and called him to join him up on the donkey. The son settled behind him and they continued, their destination now close.
A man, walking in the opposite direction to them came up to them and spoke, "Hello. Is that donkey your own?" "Yes," replied the old man. "You wouldn't have thought so by the way you over load him" replied the man. "From the look of it, you two would be more capable of carrying that poor beast than he is of carrying the two of you!" "Anything to please you," said the old man, "we can but try". So he and his son got off the donkey. They tied the legs of the donkey together and, by using a pole, struggled to carry the donkey between them over a bridge into the town.
The sight was so entertaining that crowds of people gathered to watch and to laugh. So many in fact that the donkey, disturbed by the noise, broke out from the ties, tumbled off the pole and fell into the river below. The old man, annoyed and embarrassed, set off back home with his son, convinced that in trying to please everyone, he had pleased nobody and had lost his valuable donkey into the bargain.
So many people I know and work with tie themselves in knots trying to please everyone. They are constantly worried about what others will think about them, so much so that they lose all perspective of what makes sense to them. They become so anxious about how their actions appear to others that they lose themselves.
My work with them as a coach and a hypnotherapist is to enable them to rediscover themselves and their own values. Not in a selfish or arrogant way, just in a way which recognises that their own needs and views are valid and that the opinions of others are based on the perspectives and life experiences that those others have had. Regaining and building self-esteem through this work can free a person from self-imposed limitations and enable them to be themselves and to achieve the things they really want to in life.
If you recognise this trait in yourself, and also see that it is holding you back from doing the things you really want to in life, then consider investing in hypnotherapy and/or coaching to build your self confidence and so start to achieve your dreams and ambitions.
Reading Aesop's Fables from an adult perspective can be very helpful and quite different from reading them as a child. The mind likes metaphors and stories, often taking lessons from them at a much deeper level than from literal examples.