By Suzanne Holman
How do you react when you see a snake or some other reptile?
Many people are super frightened and want to kill any snake that they may see near their home.
We’re not born with any fears except the fear of falling and of loud noises. Other fears and phobias develop as a result of what others have shared with us as we’ve grown up.
That fear of reptiles develops from the conditioning from parents and others who have acquired the fear from their predecessors.
As a child I went to a day camp where one of the activities was going to the “snake pit” where we would sit around the edge and the handler would
pick up snakes for us to handle. I loved the little ring-necked snakes….about 8 – 10 inches long. Fun to hold. At the snake pit, I learned some of the characteristics of poisonous snakes – the flattened head, a small depression between the eyes and sometimes a “rattle” for a tail.
My parents didn’t instill a huge fear in me…. I learned the value of snakes in controlling rodents. We lived on the edge of some woods though and seeing a snake in the shed where we kept gardening supplies was a little startling.
Another unforgettable experience was when our basset hound yelped from the other room when we were living in a very large older home. That large black snake definitely didn’t belong in my kitchen…. Quickly removed, safely from the house, with the help of a large shovel.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend an event at my grandsons’ school where “The Reptile Man” showed quite a variety of reptiles to the enthralled audience of children. HIs loving attitude toward his animals quickly spread to the children and they were all excited at any opportunity to go up with him to be part of handling the animals. He had a cute name for all of them…..like Sheila the Gila – monster. He was very clear about leaving snakes alone in the wild. They like to be left alone. And poisonous snakes are not to be reckoned with. He described in detail the effects of poisonous snake bites. He taught the difference between realistic caution and unfounded fears.
To see the throngs of children lining up to have their picture taken with either a small alligator or a huge snake was amazing! They knew these creatures were safe because of being raised in captivity. With careful education, they knew that they could be close to these animals. The generalization that all reptiles are scary was dropped by these kids for sure.
You may be wondering what this discussion has to do with your life.
What negative conditioning have you received that is affecting your mindset?
Are there things that you are not attempting because you have generalized your fears about trying something new or going to different places?
If you can just think rationally about opportunities rather than reacting quickly from your preconceived notions, you may very well find yourself getting beyond stuck and moving on to new experiences. Think back over the last few days or weeks. Where have you made quick decisions without getting beyond the old beliefs that may or may not be reality?