An Ancient Animal Fable with a Timeless Message
Version and Interpretation by John Cassone, Ph.D.
A lonely insecure tortoise is chillin in a stream when a scorpion walks up and says hello.
They begin to talk about life and all its wonders during which time the lonely insecure tortoise begins to feel happy. As they continue to talk, the lonely insecure tortoise fantasizes that the new friendship is the solution to his unresolved personal self esteem issues.
The degree to which the lonely insecure tortoise outsources his sense of well-being is proportionate to his inability to accurately see the scorpion for who he is versus who he needs him to be.
The scorpion proposes that the lonely insecure tortoise allow the scorpion to climb on his back and take the scorpion to the other side of the stream. The lonely insecure tortoise is concerned that the scorpion will sting him but his desperation for friendship trumps logic.
Expecting others to be different than that actually are, based on a personal need, is an assault of expectation. It puts them in a position where they are responsible for one's well being. This is a core dynamic in codependency and never ends well.
The lonely insecure tortoise decides to use reason to justify his loss of common sense. He reasons that the scorpion would not sting him because the scorpion must also be experiencing the same level of fantasy projected friendship and that there must be a deep unspoken commitment in place. Plus, the scorpion said there would be no stinging.
The lonely insecure tortoise's neediness is the setup for trust being broken, not the behavior of the scorpion (you can trust people to be exactly who they are, not who you need them to be).
After spending time grooming the scorpion with complex, but subtle, social cues intended to secure a level of commitment to one another, the lonely insecure tortoise welcomes the scorpion onto his back and together they set off for the other side of the stream.
Although the lonely insecure tortoise sees this as an act of love, in actuality it is a self-centered attempt to meet a personal need.
Just before reaching the other side, the scorpion stings the lonely insecure tortoise who is entirely shocked. Before he dies, he begs the scorpion as to why he was stung.
Expecting others to change or attempting to change them is not loving. It is manipulative. If, and when, others change it will not be because of you, less the change be infected with resentment.
The scorpion simply replies that he is a scorpion and that stinging is what scorpions do.
Upon taking responsibility for one's own sense of well-being, the need to change others is removed, acceptance is possible, and trust issues are resolved as expectation becomes matched with reality.
Holistic and Integrative Medicine