Have you heard the story of the 5 frogs, sitting on a log?
And no, this isn’t the nursery rhyme!
It goes a little something like this…
The sun is shining, the birds are tweeting in the trees, the gentle ripple of a country stream flows past you as you sit comfortably on the warm grass.
As you relax, you notice 5 frogs, sitting in a line across a single log.
That’s interesting, you say quietly to yourself.
Suddenly, and without warning, 3 of the frogs decide to jump into the stream.
How many frogs are left on the log?
Got a number?
OK good! Are you thinking that there might be 2 frogs left on that log?
Well actually there are still 5!
How come, you might ask! Some sort of trickery or details obscured?
Well here’s the rub! It’s all about language and our internal dialogue. The inner voice that constantly translates our day to day experience into thoughts, feelings and emotions. Making snap judgements without due care or consideration.
So what’s REALLY happening here?
Let me take you back to the part where the frogs decide to jump into the stream…
Did the frogs jump into the stream… or had they made the decision to jump into the stream, but not actually taken action?
In this instance, you’ve probably assumed they jumped into the stream, without the action being specifically described to you. And that right there, that’s a snap judgement. Learned behaviour from years of your brain taking shortcuts to get you “there” faster.
And that’s precisely what the brain does! If left to its own devices, it will always seek the shortest route to a solution. The shortest route being the one you already know, have experienced before, or in some cases, fear the most. It’s a basic survival instinct to take much of the guesswork off your shoulders so you can get back on with more meaningful tasks such as finding food, shelter, warmth or maybe even a mate. Such is the nature of our onboard computer!
So where does that leave us with our day to day thoughts – this story must have a message at it’s moral core!
Well yes, the message at the heart of this story is to not make snap judgements and assumptions. It’s far too easy to have our brains drive us through life on autopilot. And just imagine how many missed opportunities we must encounter by letting ourselves think in a certain way, react in a certain way, or possibly the worst of all, respond in a certain way, to others.
It really is our moral obligation to continually challenge our natures, to find more time to reflect on what we are experiencing in life. It helps to slow down the mind and give it time to weigh in on more possibilities.
We’re all guilty of jumping to those conclusions, probably on more days than not. But every time we succeed in challenging a thought, we grow that little bit more mentally resilient and cognisant.
Welcome that initial snap judgement! Fling open the door in your mind and let it in. Acknowledge it for what it is. Hello snap judgement, sit down, make yourself comfortable. I have some other guests joining us – “alternative point of view” and “request for more information”…
How often do we NOT ask more questions for greater clarity?
Are we 100% sure we’ve heard the other person, and their intent, correctly, as they would have wanted us to hear it?
Every single thing we experience in life is fed through our own internal filter. A filter fashioned and conditioned since birth to describe our own experience of life, to ourselves, in a continuous cycle of learning and development. And that does lead to developing prejudices and strong opinions. Prejudices and opinions which are often unfounded, made up, inaccurate or just completely false.
Some of these we adopt from other people, from our parents, from our friends, even from society at large. Because at the end of day, all we want to do is fit in. Even those that don’t want to fit in, are trying so desperately hard to fit in with other people who don’t want to fit in. Face it, we’re tribal!
So did we REALLY hear what the other person said? Or did we hear our understanding of it? Are we able to put ourselves into their headspace, to really try to understand what they are thinking and feeling, and by virtue of that, what they are really trying to say?
Are we REALLY listening?
Or did we listen to our snap judgement first? Probably! But the true skill lies in then challenging that thought, and it might be that we DO need to ask more questions.
We’re mostly programmed to listen to others in terms of our own needs, wants and desires. And not to fully appreciate the other person’s point of view, references, experience and cultural standards. If we’re unsure, or find ourselves needing more information in order to make an accurate assessment… we need to ask! Clarification is a gift and we’re so lazy with our language that we often don’t receive it!
There’s an amazing quote from the Bible, which I keep coming back to. Although not an active member of any organised religion, I do often seek the jaw dropping wisdoms of yesteryear as a source of endless enlightenment.
It goes like this…
Matthew 6:27. English Standard Version
27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Take the time to explore your options, because making the right choice, or giving the right response, could be the difference between an amazing opportunity in your life, and listening and obeying your snap judgement, which leads you away from it.
Be like the frogs! Decide what you’re going to do, how you’re going to react, what your initial response may be, and the required action, but recognise that a decision is not an action!
You can alter a decision far more easily than you can an action!
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