Hyacinth was the name given to my forefathers by their slave owner, then bowing under western supremacy my parents called me Brigette. I cannot trace my lineage as far back to Africa, only to Grenada and St Lucia however, all I can safely conclude is that our slave master must have been quite a small owner because there aren’t many Hyacinth’s around.
On August 1, Emancipation Day was celebrated throughout the Caribbean. This commemorates 1 August 1838 when full freedom was granted to all slaves in the British owned colonies. Between 1662 and 1807 Britain shipped 3.1 million Africans across the Atlantic Ocean in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Africans were forcibly brought to the Caribbean and sold as slaves to work on plantations. Despite being held captive many slaves resisted their enslavement and refused to be broken.
Although slavery is no longer tolerated, many of us are held captive by limitations placed on us by ourselves or others. My whole life I’ve been told “You can’t.”
“The biggest enemy you have to deal with is yourself. If there’s no enemy within, then the enemy outside can do us no harm.” ~ Les Brown.
These limitations inevitably lead to many of us suffering from the “Baby Elephant syndrome.” The story is told how elephants are trained. When an elephant living in captivity and is still a baby, it is tied to a tree with a chain or rope nightly. The baby elephant tries with all its might to break the rope but it isn’t strong enough to do so. It tries and fails many times until realizing its efforts are futile, it finally gives up and stops attempting for the rest of its life.
Later, when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope and could easily free itself by breaking the rope or uprooting the tree but because its mind has been conditioned by its past experiences, it doesn’t even make the slightest attempt to break free. This powerful animal has confined its present abilities by the limitations of past experiences hence, the “Baby Elephant Syndrome.”
Human beings are similar to the elephant except for one thing, we can choose not to accept the false boundaries created by others or the past.
‘ The mind is a powerful force. It can enslave us or empower us. It can plunge us into the depths of misery or take us to the heights of ecstasy. Learn to use is wisely.” ~David Cuschieri
Here are my 7 tips to break the chains that are holding you captive.
1. Believe in yourself. You have to believe in yourself ultimately. Always Think big and Dream big. Focus on your strengths and work on developing your shortfalls. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t let circumstances dictate what you are capable of achieving.
“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe with you.” ~ Cynthia Kersey
2. Work hard. Do what you can do. Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Take responsibility for where you are. Stop feeling like you’re owed. In life, there are no handouts. If you want something, you owe it to yourself to go out and get it. Nothing worth having comes easy.
“Determination and perseverance move the world; thinking that others will do it for you is a sure way to fail.” ~Marva Collins
3. Be Positive. Turn negatives into positives and make it a growing experiencing. Don’t dwell on others opinions of you or take things personally. Don’t blame and harbour toxic emotions.It will only hold you back. Let it add fuel to the fire. Envision the future and maintain your focus.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom. I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” ~Nelson Mandela
4. Never give up. Be confident. Ask for what you want. Purpose in your heart that you will keep fighting for your dreams. How many times will you try before you decide to give up? This is your dream and you have to protect it. I try every door until I have exhausted all options and yet I don’t give up. Once there is a will, there is always way and I am determined to find it!
“You’ve only got three choices in life: Give up, give in, or give it all you’ve got. ~Unknown.
5. Be Patient – For everything there is a time and season. The waiting period can be the most difficult but it’s important to not let doubt and fear creep in.
”No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. “You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant” ~Warren Buffett
6. Have a strong support network. You can’t do it alone. There are days when it becomes too much for you. You may need a little help to get back up.
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you.” ~Edmund Lee
7. Have faith that things will work out. Some things are out of your control. I trust that God will take me through those difficult moments and this gives me peace even when things don’t go my way.
“Faith is like the radar that sees through the fog” ~Corrie Ten Boom
Additionally, as my grandmother would always say, “Make books your friends!” It opens your mind to new possibilities and helps you learn from the experience of others.
The saddest state a person can reach is mental slavery. They have already given up. Everyday I counsel individuals and I wish I could make them believe in themselves, but I can’t. They will have to remove the shackles for themselves. This is your life! Don’t let anyone else write your story. Take back the pen and make a great ending!
“None can destroy iron but its own rust can. Likewise, none can destroy a person, but his own mindset can” ~Ratan Tata.