You’ve probably heard the one about the frog and scorpion. It’s one of those fables that crops up time and time again. Mainly because it teaches us important lessons that can help us to lead happier, more fulfilled lives.
What’s the frog and the scorpion?
In this story, a scorpion is sat on a riverbank, wanting to cross. But as it can’t swim, it asks a frog to carry it across the water. The frog is wary and says: “but you’ll sting me,” however the scorpion reassures the frog and says: “no I won’t, because if I sting you, we’ll both drown.” So the frog agrees to carry the scorpion across the water, but halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog. “Why did you sting me?” gasps the frog. “I couldn’t help it,” replied the scorpion, “it’s my nature.”
It’s difficult to say where this fable originated from. But according to Wikipedia, it emerged in Russia in the early 20th century. However, it is likely that earlier fables inspired this tale.
What can we learn from it?
Like many fables, we can learn lessons from the frog and the scorpion. Lessons that could save us money, time and energy.
1) Look at the whole picture
They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But if it looks like a scorpion and it sounds like a scorpion, then it could sting you. It’s also important to remember that sometimes it’s okay to go with your gut instinct and protect yourself.
If a scorpion has hurt you before, then it could sting again, even if it does promise not to. Occasionally a scorpion will make a decision to fight against its nature to sting, but if it can’t fight the urge and it does sting you again, then what impact will that have on your life?
2) Question what people say
This can be applied in lots of different situations. For example, if somebody is telling you you should buy a product because it will solve all of your problems, ask yourself if it genuinely will. They might tell you they wouldn’t recommend it if they didn’t love the item themselves, but is that strictly true? Or is that salesperson going to hit their monthly target if you put your hand in your pocket? The same applies when somebody is asking to borrow money. If they have in the past and they haven’t repaid you, then how do you know they won’t do the same again?
Sometimes people try to persuade us to do things for their own reasons and they won’t change previous behaviours, so it’s important that you question them so you can gauge their integrity.
3) You can be too trusting
Trusting other people is a lovely quality to have, but people have to earn that trust. And if the trust is broken and they do sting you, then try to learn from it. Don’t just offer to carry them across the river again after a few kind words. And if you do, be aware that they may hurt you again.
4) Accept that scorpions exist
Scorpions are a part of life. They exist amongst us and you’re bound to face one eventually. You might feel disappointed when you encounter one, but it’s part of life and the human condition. People have flaws.
5) Recognise the scorpion within yourself
We are all able to make choices, but those choices are influenced by our nature. So if you know that having your savings account on show will tempt you to dip into it, hide it. If you know you’re a sucker for Just Eat, despite wanting to save money, then delete the app. There are things we can do to make our choices overrule our nature, we just need to recognise and acknowledge our own weaknesses.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that the frog and the scorpion teach us any other life lessons?