This past few weeks I seem to have been talking a lot about frogs. Yes, frogs. Random I know, but recently I seem to have done exactly that way more than usual.
Don’t worry, I haven’t sacked off counselling in favour of some sort of career as an amphibian expert. But if you know me at all you’ll know that I love a metaphor, and recently some of the metaphors I’ve heard over and over have been about – you guessed it – frogs.
Specifically boiling them and eating them for breakfast.
I know, that’s an awful mental image and I don’t condone frog boiling – or eating for that matter, ick. In fact, no frogs were harmed in the writing of this blog! But I do think both of these metaphors have a lot to offer us if we let them, so I wanted to share.
Eating a frog for breakfast
Some friends of mine recently attended a Productivity Ninja (I know, how amazing does that sound?!) workshop with a lady named Grace Marshall.
Now I’ve never met Grace, but from everything these people said about her and her approach to productivity I definitely have a bit of a girl crush already.
One of my favourite pieces of Grace wisdom was the idea that we should all aim to eat a frog for breakfast.
I know, that sounds weird, but it makes sense in context, I promise.
You know at the start of a day, or a week, when you find that your to do list includes something you’re really not looking forward to? Where does that go on your list of priorities?
Because for me, no matter how important it actually is, it always ends up somewhere towards the bottom of the list. And when I reach that point? Well I have a tendency to wash dishes, mindlessly scroll on my phone, or find something incredibly important to do that usually involves a lot of internet searching and very little genuine action.
Grace’s theory though, is that by putting aside time at the very start of the day to “eat a frog” and get that one thing done, you’ll not only get the burden off your shoulders, but also free up the time and energy you’d otherwise spend procrastinating throughout the rest of your week – a huge win win.
And you know what? It works… So I challenge you to spot the frogs on your to do list and put aside some time to eat them for breakfast before they hop all over the rest of your week!
Are you a boiling frog?
However you choose to eat those frogs, you probably don’t want to think about boiling anything green and prince-like. But of course that’s where this blog is going next. Because I have to ask – are you a boiling frog?
If you haven’t heard this one, it comes from an experiment that allegedly happened in 1800s France.
The story goes that a scientist put a pan of water on to boil, and once the water was good and hot dropped a frog into it. Of course the frog, not being stupid, recognised the water was too hot and jumped back out.
So the scientist let the water cool, let the frog rest a little and then popped him back in the cold water, where he swam around happily of course. So after a while the scientist turned the water up by a degree… and another… and another.
The temperature increase was so gradual that the frog barely noticed. He kept swimming around, until eventually the water became so hot that he stopped moving so much, went numb, and eventually boiled to death.
Sorry, I know that’s a bloody awful story. But it’s a damned good metaphor for how we find ourselves in times of stress, or in fact any not pleasant situation.
Throw us in at the deep end with something awful and of course we’ll shake our heads straight away and jump back out. But put us in what seems like a comfortable situation and then make it gradually more awful – well we won’t even notice until it feels like it’s too late and we’re too numb to stop it.
It’s definitely something I’ve experienced for myself, and definitely something I’ve seen and heard clients and friends go through too.
The jobs that seemed great, then the workload increased as the recognition lessened until eventually we were too tired, stressed and low to feel we could walk away.
The relationships that seemed perfect at first, and we could even handle the odd mean word or abusive action… until gradually those things became more common and we believed that was all we were worth.
The times we let other people’s needs go ahead of our own every so often, and then more and more and more until we lost touch completely with what was right for us.
No matter what the situation, the fact is that if we don’t stop, step back and take stock of our lives every now and again there really is a danger that we’ll become just like those frogs and boil in the water that once seemed so comfortable.
My advice to you? That every time something you’re not comfortable with happens, stop and really think about it. Is this really OK? Really an acceptable compromise? Or are these the first signs of the water around you starting to boil?
Remember that when it comes to your own life, you always have a hand on that temperature dial and can always choose to hop out of the pan, no matter how difficult it may be to do that.
So there we have it – the ways frogs have been at the centre of my conversations recently, and hopefully a reminder of how you can keep them at the front of your mind too for a happier life.
But remember, if there’s a frog or a temperature change you’re really struggling with, that’s not a burden you need to carry alone.
Balance and Fulfilment coaching is a great way to help you tackle even the toughest tasks on your list and find a way to reach your goals more effectively.
Meanwhile Soul-Centered Counselling will help you to step back and honestly assess your life right now, before shedding the pains and the baggage that are holding you back and stopping you from leaping out of that pan.