Why does a dragon horde gold?
This was one of the questions Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson posed during a lecture. Peterson used the metaphor of a dragon to illustrate why you must overcome your fears instead of ignoring them.
Peterson read the children’s book There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent to elaborate on this metaphor. In the story, a young boy awakes to a dragon sitting at the end of the bed. After patting the dragon’s head, the boy runs downstairs to tell his mother. She responds that there is no such thing as a dragon. The boy stops patting the dragon’s head and begins to ignore it instead. How could you give attention to something that doesn’t exist?
Over the course of the day, the dragon begins to grow. Eventually, the dragon becomes so large that it wears the house like a turtle wears its shell. Finally, the boy’s mother recognizes that the dragon exists and the boy pats it on the head. The dragon begins to shrink.
We all have dragons in our lives. The point of the story is that if we don’t face our dragons, they only get bigger. Dragons don’t just go away, they stick with us.
In ancient and medieval mythology, dragons always held treasure. The usual depiction is a dragon lying on a pile of gold. Do our metaphorical dragons horde gold too?
Our own dragons guard treasure. The gold your dragon is hiding is different for each of us. It could be finding meaning in life, discovering your calling, or building lifelong relationships. We find what we are looking for when we recognize and overcome our dragons. We find meaning in our fears and challenges.
I’m starting to identify my own personal dragons. One of them is dealing with difficult people. I’m now starting to look back and reflect on my interactions with people I don’t like. I have realized that it will hurt me in the long run to have negative relationships with anyone, even if I’m not very fond of them. I have to overcome this dragon.
We can’t run away from our dragons because they will only grow bigger. We can’t be afraid to face them because we get the most out of life when we do. We have to identify our dragons and defeat them.
What is your dragon? How are you going to face it?