The Strength of the Tiger Within

By Ken Wells - 05/21/2021


Series Two: Blog Thirty-One

When you declare yourself an unwilling victim of a known risk, you have postured yourself as a poor loser in a game you chose to play.” ― Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life.

People learn through stories. The Sufi religion is a form of Islamic mysticism. Sufis tell wonderful stories that house wisdom for living. There was a man walking through the forest who saw a fox that had lost its legs, and he wondered how it lived. Then he saw a tiger come up with game in its mouth. The tiger ate its fill and left the rest of the meat for the fox.

The next day God fed the fox by means of the same tiger. The man began to wonder at God’s greatness and said to himself, “I too shall just rest in a corner with full trust in the Lord and he will provide me with all that I need.”

He did this many days but nothing happened. He was almost at death’s door when he heard a voice say, “Oh you who are in the path of error, open your eyes to the truth! Stop imitating the disabled fox and follow the example of the tiger.”

Recovery from addiction involves being able to recognize the many ways you embrace the mentality of acting as a helpless legless fox by giving your power away to addictive behavior. While powerless to the craving of addictive substance or behavior an addict can choose to reach out for helpful resource when overwhelmed. The key is to recognize when you have surrendered your power.

Trauma triggers mistaken beliefs in the life of an addict. Childhood abandonment, neglect, and all other forms of abuse establish a foundation that undermines empowerment. Other factors like poverty, domestic violence, and deprived thinking all reinforce a legless fox attitude. Addicts marinate in the mistaken belief that life is overwhelming and they cannot cope. They embrace the mistaken belief that they are not enough and do not measure up in relationships.  They discount the possibility of positive outcomes in their lives based on what they have learned through a life of deprivation. Addicts learn to rely upon their drug of choice. Essentially, they become a legless fox in mentality convinced that they cannot meet their needs without dependence upon their addiction.

The tiger in the Sufi story is a symbol of empowerment. This metaphor does not suggest that you are an invincible sun god without limitations to do whatever! Yet, as an addict you do have the power to resource yourself. In the spirit of being a tiger, you can transform the curse of lust into a blessing of intimacy by simply focusing on what legitimate need underlies the overwhelming craving and address the concern in a healthy way. A “tiger” in recovery can practice resilience and learn new ways to self-parent every day!

Here are some considerations toward transforming the tiger within your recovery process:

  1. Cocoon yourself: Recovery is so daily! Wear and tear is the average experience of every addict. Your personal empowerment will drain as a result. Therefore, you must regularly cocoon yourself in order to refuel your spiritual energy and your visions for recovery. A cocoon is a silky web spun around the larvae of many insects. Caterpillars emerge from their cocoons as beautiful butterflies. The word cocoon can also refer to a form of self-protection in recovery. When addicts fail to cocoon themselves by stepping away from the ongoing pressure of recovery living in order to fuel their visions, they abort the chrysalis experience so needed in order to bring their recovery back to balance and centered living. Stepping out of the muck and mire of everyday pressure is a necessity in order to maintain successful recovery.
  2. Creativity: follows cocooning. Once you have refueled your visions you will be inspired by the tiger within to use resource that were previously unseen. Addicts who get stuck with addictive thinking easily conclude that their only option is to medicate with their drug of choice when faced with depletion and deprivation. They can quickly slide into a mentality of entitlement. Yet when you cocoon and refuel your visions you can see clearly the resources around you that otherwise would be unnoticed. This is where creativity is born. Recovering addicts are some of the most creative people who walk this earth! When the tiger within is resourced and empowered, addicts can take what is that life presents and spread it around and make it enough.
  3. Reframe: The magic of long-term recovery is housed in an addict’s ability to reframe life experience. Without this, addicts tend to approach life with a prima donna attitude–if I finally decide to give up my drug of choice, then God, the universe, and everyone included should pave the way for my successful recovery. When this doesn’t happen, ofttimes the addict relapses while pouting about how things did not work out. Reframe is the ability for an addict to focus on what is best for them in life. It is a great exercise in empowering the tiger within. Reframing is a daily discipline that stabilizes recovery life for an addict. There is no long-term recovery unless this magical skill is honed and fine-tuned.

Take time to cocoon yourself, evaluate your recovery journey, and refuel your visions about the person you want to be. Assess where you have shown up like a legless fox in your recovery journey. Determine to creatively reframe your experience into an empowered tiger within that transforms your triggers into a powerful self-parenting adult who is your destiny.

Recent Articles

Subscribe and thrive.

Subscribe to receive the latest stories, thought leadership, and growth strategies from PCS therapists.

© Psychological Counseling Services