Experiential Limits

So hungry © Elena Ulrikh | Dreamstime.com
So hungry

Have you heard about the experiment done with pike and minnows in an aquarium divided by a glass partition? The pike went after the minnows, and hit the glass. When the pike stopped trying to eat the minnows, the glass partition was removed – and the pike did not try to eat the minnows even when the minnows swam by them. The pike had been conditioned to think they could not eat the minnows, and once they learned that lesson they never changed. They were victims of experiential limits.

Sometimes humans do the same thing: after we repeatedly experience a limit, a failure, or something emotionally painful, we give up. This makes sense, why would someone continue to do something that ends badly? But, what if the situation changes? What if they miss that change? Then they are like the pike, following a limit that no longer exists.

Despite cleaver sayings to the contrary, people change. You know what your bride could not or would not do, or tolerate, or enjoy, in the past. You learned that, and you stopped doing, saying, or trying those things. Do you ever go back and check those limits?

It seems to me the wise thing to do is to find initial limits quickly, without having to run into the glass until our noses bleed. Then wait a while – weeks or months depending on the situation – and try again, or discuss the issue. If the glass is still there, wait another few months, or a year, and then try again.

On the other side of this, try to think of things your bride stopped doing, saying, asking, or expecting because she kept slamming into a wall. Have you changed in a way that means that thing is no longer a problem? If so, let her know – it will bless her a great deal.

Image Credit: © Elena Ulrikh | Dreamstime.com

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