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Why Birds Cling to Their Perches

In her book 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, Suze Orman writes about a time when she was in Mexico. There was a merchant who was selling parrots: they weren't in cages, and they didn't fly away. Orman was fascinated by this.

She asked the merchant, "Do these birds just love you so much they have no desire to fly away?"

He laughed. "No" he said, "I train them to think their perches mean safety and security. When they come to think this, they naturally wrap their claws tightly around the perch and don't want to release it. They keep themselves confined, as if they've forgotten they know how to fly."

Was this hard to do? she asked.

"With little birds it's very hard, sometimes even impossible," he said. "It's easy with the large birds."

In her book, she writes:

Suddenly a lightbulb went off in my head. We are just like those poor parrots. We have been taught to clutch our money as tightly as we can, as if our money is the perch of our safety and security. Just like those parrots, we have all forgotten how free we really are—with or without the perch. The more afraid we are, the tighter we hold on, and the more we have trapped ourselves.

When she realized this she asked the merchant how he would go about "unteaching" this behavior. "Easy," he said, "You just show them how to release their grip, and then they can fly as free as they want."

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