The Giraffe Story

This story is about how to spot when we have an inner belief that we are not good enough and lack acceptance of where we are at.

Financial planning will help you identify behaviours, patterns, and inner beliefs you have around money, financial and life stuff. It won’t always feel comfortable to learn this, but experience has taught me that the advice you are least comfortable hearing is likely to be the advice you most need to receive and that will yield the biggest positive result if followed. With compassion and willingness, we can all bring on the version of ourselves that serves us best. It often starts with understanding ourselves a little better and this story has helped me in that regard.

I have a friend who was studying at night school and she arrived late for class. The lesson had started, teacher had asked the group “what would be your response if I said you are a giraffe?”

My friend Annie was standing just inside the door waiting for an appropriate moment to go take her seat and she listened as a few class members responded. “I would say you should have gone to SpecSavers!” which caused a bit of a chuckle.  Another asked if it was in reference to the length of her legs, neck or tongue so she could work out if it was meant as a compliment or not.

The teacher turned to Annie. “Before you take your seat Annie, tell me what your response is.”

“No I am not” was Annie’s response.

“Exactly! You know you are not a giraffe.  You are confident nothing about you resembles a giraffe and so you simply dismiss my comment as nonsense and move on.  Well done Annie, please do come in and make yourself comfortable.”

The class was quiet, Annie felt all eyes were on her as she accepted teacher’s praise and made her way to her desk. She unpacked her bag, hung her coat on the back of the chair, pulled out the seat which always made a flipping scraping noise, which seemed louder than ever in the hushed room, she settled down into her seat. When she looked up teacher was stood in front of her and asked “how would you respond if I said you were a poor timekeeper and disrespectful of your classmates who had arrived on time for the lesson?”

Well Annie was bloody furious. How dare teacher call her out in front of everyone?

She stood, made eye contact and explained in a carefully modulated voice intended to deny the seething emotion within “You have no idea what has gone on in my life today and what challenges I have faced to get here at all, let alone 10 minutes late! You have no right to judge me and even less right to criticize me in front of everyone. This is adult education, I am a 45 year old woman paying for tuition, not some school kid cutting compulsory education. How dare you suggest I am disrespectful when you are behaving disrespectfully to me?”

Teacher smiled and reassured the blustering Annie that as one of his brightest students missing 10 minutes of a lesson was not likely to be detrimental and that the camaraderie and respect witnessed amongst all the students in the class implied everyone had a great deal of respect for each other –  nevertheless – he highlighted that probably a bit embarrassed about being late and maybe disappointed with herself for not better managing the demands of the day, she had reacted very defensively to what was a question about how she would respond in certain circumstances.  Teacher had not even directly accused Annie of being late and disrespectful, but that is what she heard and that is what she reacted to.

Whenever I feel inclined to react strongly, passionately, angrily or defensively to something, I try to find a gap between the emotion and the reaction, to check if I am being over sensitive because of a belief within me that I am not as good or as sure of myself in this area as I would like to be. I try and remind myself of Annie’s giraffe story.  Call me a giraffe and I have confidence you are mistaken. If you call me on something where I believe there is an element of truth or justification, I will want to dig in and defend myself.

I would love to say that now I know this about myself, I never overreact or blame my insecurities on other people, but what can I say? I am a warm-blooded creature with a lot of insecurities and emotions although I think I am less likely to blow up in defensive rage these days than before I heard the giraffe story.

Thanks Annie – I love you


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