I read a children’s book once called There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent. I’ve linked a video below of a narrator reading the story if you are curious about it.
The basic premise is about a little boy named Billy Bixby and a small dragon that appears in his room one day. The dragon is tiny, about the size of a small kitten. When Billy tries to tell his mom about the dragon, she emphatically states, “There’s no such thing as a dragon!”
The dragon is ignored by Billy and his mother throughout the day. He begins to grow. And to grow. First he’s the size of a dog. Then fills a room. Eventually he fills the entire house. When Mr. Bixby comes home from work he sees that the house is gone, taken away on the back of the dragon. He finally locates the house and asks, “How did this happen?”
“It was the dragon,” Billy answers.
“There’s no such thing…” Mother started to say.
“There IS a dragon!” Billy insisted. “A very BIG dragon!” And then Billy patted the dragon on the head.
As soon as he did so, the dragon started to shrink in size, until he was the size of a small kitten again. Mother finally accepted that there had been a dragon in the house all along and asked, “Why did it have to get so big?”
Billy answered, “Maybe it just wanted to be noticed.”
Like most children’s stories, this one has a much deeper meaning than it first appears. Most of us are like Mother, not Billy. We have dragons that we face every single day and in a lot of cases we try to pretend they aren’t there. If we simply ignore them they will go away. That is very rarely the case.
Credit card debt, the IRS, communication problems with our spouse, bad eating habits…these are all things that generally start off as small, kitten-sized dragons. If we ignore them, even for a little while, they grow. And they grow. They grow until they become full-sized dragons with flames for breath, sharp teeth, and an appetite for us. They will consume you, eat you, and destroy you if not attended to.
I learned this the hard way. I have had various issues in the past like those listed above. I have buried my head in the sand on far too many occasions. I have hoped that they would go away. They never did.
It wasn’t until I had the courage to face those dragons head on that my life began to improve. I made a promise to myself that I would never hide from problems again. As they came, I would confront them. It’s not easy. It isn’t something that I want to do. But, I know what the alternative is. That tiny, manageable dragon becomes something I do not want to face as it grows in both size and ferocity.
A funny thing has happened since I have begun doing this. The anticipation of the problem’s outcome has generally become worse than the outcome itself. As an example, at one point I owed a tremendous amount to my credit card company. I ignored them for over a year. They wouldn’t go away. Their tactics continued to escalate in aggressiveness. I was scared. It was a very large dragon.
I finally just decided to call them. I wanted to work something out. The stress was getting too great. The pain too deep. I figured I could get on a payment plan of some kind and although it would take me years to pay back, at least it would be off my shoulders eventually.
When I called I was surprised to learn that they would negotiate the final amount due. And by negotiate I mean they were offering to take a substantial cut just to get it off their books. Apparently they were as tired of me as I was of them. We finally settled on a number that was around a third of what I owed. I sent them the money. They closed the account. Scary, fire-breathing dragon was a kitten again.
Face your dragons. They are much easier to slay when they are small and tame.