By harnessing your dragons, you slay them

By Michele Zirkle Marcum - Contributing Columnist

Editor’s Note: Listen to the podcast of this column.

Dragons don’t slide into harnesses easily, but if we’re brave enough to toss a saddle on them, we usually find the ride isn’t as scary as we imagined.

Rather than trekking us deep into the disenchanted forest, our dragons rescue us from our own treacherous minds.

Our fears lie like sleeping dragons, deep in the dungeon of the psyche. These dragons of fear feed off our egos and depend on our believing that any admission of inadequacy is an admission of weakness. It’s only when we face our feelings of failure that we can set our dragons free.

Then, like Puff the Magic Dragon, who frolicked along the seashore with Jackie in the famous song by the group Peter, Paul and Mary, they become our endeared companions.

There’s a Cherokee legend about a boy who describes a war going on between two wolves inside of him — one brings him joy, the other regret. The boy asks an elder which one will win. His reply, “The one you feed.”

This is true of dragons, too. We feed the ones we keep under lock and key.

Often we seek to improve our lives by blaming others for predicaments that are the result of hiding our dragons. We think that by refusing to acknowledge our shortcomings, we prevent others from seeing our imperfections as well. But, ignoring dragons actually empowers them as they feed off the energy pouring forth from our fears.

For years, I was petrified to speak in front of a group of people. Whether a small group or a large one, I was afraid my contribution to the conversations would be dismissed, my comments disregarded.

The dragon I didn’t want to face is that I myself was a lackadaisical listener. When I wasn’t interrupting others, I paid scanty attention to what they were saying. Once I faced my failure to be an avid listener, people I talked to, began listening to me — really listening.

Yes, it was disheartening to admit that my own ignorance had promulgated my previous situations, but once I did, I realized that harnessing my dragons was the only way to slay them.

When we first attempt to tame our dragons, they will rattle their cages in anger, not wanting to be exposed. We may hesitate, wanting to keep them safely inside where we feel protected from them, but it’s inside the dungeons that they do the most damage.

It’s inside that they claw at our fears, stoking our egos and inciting a panic in us that tells us we will never be free of them — that we must submerge the desire to look at our own contributions to our life circumstances.

But dragons are needed. When allowed to rise, they teach us to accept ourselves, and this improves our relationships with others. By shifting our perceptions, we’re able to make choices from our courageous insights, rather than from fear.

No one listened to me until I embraced my fear of not being heard. I did this by first practicing the art of listening. Then I grabbed hold of the reigns — in this case my pen and paper, and, believing I had something to say, began to slay my dragons daily, which is more exciting than any board game of Dungeons and Dragons ever could be.

By Michele Zirkle Marcum

Contributing Columnist

Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County and an author. Her column appears each Tuesday.

Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County and an author. Her column appears each Tuesday.