Is there a dragon in your life? I’m talking about the “fire-breathing” person, whose irrational behavior makes you feel as if you have to constantly monitor your words and actions to ward off their angry outbursts? Maybe you tell yourself it’s not a big deal because you can do whatever you have to do to keep the peace… Change your plans, disappoint others who are less volatile, push your own desires aside… anything it takes… to keep the peace with the dragon.
The truth is, you’re just feeding the dragon. Just as we use treats to train a dog to be obedient, we also train people to be dragons by allowing them to manipulate and control us. Some dragons are very aware of what they are doing and their actions are intentional, others are just doing what we trained them to do.
Dragons disguise themselves in many clever ways. Your dragon may be your boss, your spouse, your ex-spouse, your child, a parent or a friend. Some dragons are charming and they pull you in by doing things for you that you don’t want to do for yourself. These helpful gestures may have an emotional invoice attached and the dragon is likely to call it due whenever it suits him or her. Other dragons hold you hostage by threatening to withhold or take something away. Dragons have been known to keep us in line, by telling us or showing us that they will physically or emotionally harm us, if we dare to cross them. Dragons are bullies.
The only way to rid your life of, or live peacefully with dragons, is to stop feeding them. That idea can be very scary. Just the thought of awakening a sleeping dragon is enough to stop some of us in our tracks. It may seem to be safer to go along with whatever keeps the dragon quiet, but just imagine how good it would feel not to have to walk on eggshells all the time.
When we give control of our life, even small parts of our life, over to a dragon, we eventually begin to lose sight of our own identity. Our ability to make decisions diminishes, we doubt our own wisdom and we lose touch with who we really are. Giving in to the demands of a dragon can impact our physical health too. Your physical body is directly connected to your mental and emotional well-being. Depression, eating disorders, alzheimer’s disease, gastrointestinal disorders and accelerated aging are only a few of the ways our bodies can manifest on the outside, what we are feeling on the inside. What would it mean to you if you could be your authentic self around everyone, including your dragon?
Appeasing a dragon is a habit that forms slowly over time. Fortunately, you do not have to change your habit overnight. Instead, all you need to do is take one small step toward change. Simply begin to notice when you are feeding the dragon.
One of the most common ways we placate a dragon, is by saying “yes” to something that we would rather say “no” to. If saying “no” is difficult for you, begin to practice saying “no” or voicing your opinion, in situations with people who are not dragons. As you become more comfortable with being yourself around others, you will naturally begin to be more like yourself around your dragon. Another way we feed our dragon is when we always do things the dragon’s way. In this case, just asking for a more equitable division of the give and take in the relationship might be enough to change the dynamics of your relationship.
Sometimes, if the dragon values the relationship and is willing to change, he or she may begin to shift their thoughts and behave in a more fair minded manner. Sadly, most dragons are not willing to change and it becomes necessary to let go of the relationship. If your dragon is an unreasonable family member, and you cannot or do not want to sever all contact, you will need to develop the courage to say “no” to them as needed and do whatever you can to limit the time you spend around them.
What is the first step you need to take to loosen your dragon’s grip on you?
Important Message: If you are in a relationship with a person who has addiction issues or is physically abusive to you, please seek help from a therapist, counselor or a crisis center. This can be a dangerous situation. It would be in your best interest to have someone who has the training and experience to help and support you as you untangle yourself from that unstable or abusive situation.