There Is No Tiger

It all came about from a social media video from Neal Foard. He tells this great story about bombing a huge business meeting in Chicago years ago, and the power of a bartender and a tattoo.

In this story, he talks about meeting this woman in a hotel bar and seeing this tattoo on her wrist in Polish. The tattoo said in Polish “nya ma tyrgrysa”, translated…“There is no tiger”. She goes on to remind him of things we have forgotten; 20,000 years ago the likelihood of being killed by a tiger, or a bear, or falling through the ice, was quite high…20,000 years later, we still react like everything in our world is out to kill us.

I work with people daily who are pushing up against anxiety. I myself am a “general anxiety disorder” person. Our minds and bodies are so conditioned to be afraid of the unknown that simply being alive in America is enough to convince us we’re going to die. Our media doesn’t really help this much; the news is full of scary things, our political environment is unhealthy at best, and the toxic positivity of social media makes us believe that everyone makes a million dollars a year and has a non-stop ecstatically happy life so if you don’t what’s wrong with you. Otherwise, you must be lazy or fat, need more probiotics, another diet plan, or think more positively and NEVER entertain actual human states of emotion (sadness, or stillness). You get it. So, we’re anxious as a culture.

We literally interact with life as if our very existence is a threat to our very existence. Sure, someday we’re all going to die. I could be gone before I finish this blog for all I know (if that happens someone finish this and post it because I think that would be SO funny). I’m not morbid, I just know the difference between comedy (timing) and tragedy (timing).

So here’s the rub. Life will eventually kill all of us, and how we spend that time between birth and death is what makes the difference. Our experience of our life is what makes it worth living. If we are challenging ourselves to do things differently than before, we are going to feel a little nervous. If life forces us, because something unexpected happens, and we have to now live differently, that makes us nervous. These are normal human reactions. When we get up in the morning and treat everything in our life like it’s going to kill us; we spill the milk, we don’t get the promotion, we miss an opportunity, someone doesn’t like us, someone has more money, or more fame, or a bigger house. We worry for the sake of worrying because it does indeed become a habit, and then, there are problems.

In this time of elevated energy, it’s time to know the difference between when it is natural to feel nervous, anxious, pressured, or even afraid, and when we are afraid for reasons that truly will not kill us, or won’t even dramatically change our lives.

When you find yourself in nervousness; stop. Breathe deep five times. Then ask yourself what choice you have. I coach people to play “worst-case scenario”.  What’s going to happen? Typically our fear-mind tells us it’s going to be really REALLY bad. So next ask again, “then what happens?”, hear the answer, and then ask yourself again, “then what happens?”. Play this game until you realize you will start over and move on because eventually, we all get to THAT place, where no matter what happens, we will start over and move on, and in doing so not die. This is our humanness at its finest; we are resilient, we have tenacity, and our mind loves to figure things out, where 20,000 years ago we could run fast and climb trees and hide in caves, we now have many more ways to care for ourselves and to handle what is in front of us, and so at some point, we will be just fine.

No matter what, you will figure it out. You are ok.


And again.

So now, let’s all say it together, “nya ma tyrgrysa.”

End note: my dear friend Angie is the person who texted me the Neal Foard video.  Her heritage is Polish. The photo for this post is her Polish great-aunt’s handwriting of what will be by the time you all read this, a tattoo on her wrist as a constant reminder, “there is no tiger”.

Here is the link to Neal Foard’s story, it is SO worth watching:


Forever the journey, Anne

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