Little fish – little pond

Feb 20 2009 by Peter Vajda Print This Article

Many of us spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to convince ourselves and others we are big fish in small ponds or even bigger fish in larger ponds. The reality is most of us are little fish in little ponds. How so?

Most of us navigate our lives swimming around in little ponds that are defined by our immediate circumstances and our immediate identity. Many of us have little to no idea what it's like to see beyond our rational mind, our immediate thoughts, or our long-held beliefs. Most often, we are unable to even consider the possibility of there being another reality or "pond" out there.

The reason we never venture out to see if there is a larger pond is because (1) We feel content, secure and in control in our little pond (i.e., at least we think we are); (2) We are afraid to look beyond the edges of our little pond; we swim around preoccupied and obsessed trying to make our pond work for us - being intimidated by the unknown ponds out there; or (3) we have no interest in exploring other ponds.

Most folks fall into reason number two, living in fear of the unknown and the related feelings of aloneness and separation from what gives them a (false) sense of security. This false security is accompanied by a lack of trust and faith in even considering swimming in another pond.

So, in our small pond we effort to create a life of security, order, control and perfection. We swim to exhaustion while experiencing greater and greater stress, anxiety, and insecurity, trying to maintain greater and greater control.

A different pond

"Something in a koi pond. They're very zen." (The Trial)

What would it be like to venture into a different pond? To venture into a reality where we would give up the need to control, to give up the safe boundaries of our familiar pond, to experience a new pond in a new way - accepting new ways of doing and being, maybe even new ways of swimming?

What would happen if we were to leave behind our life preservers - our ego, beliefs, preconceptions, and judgments and swim with faith and trust? What would it take to enter into a "new pond experience" at work, at home or in relationship? What would it be like to move into a new pond with an open mind, without needing to control? What would it be like to swim in this new pond trusting that we won't drown or lose our way?

The deal is we can't think our way into this new pond. We have to take a deep breath, let go and dive in without a life jacket and without resistance - without our familiar ways of thinking, acting, judging, doubting, or medicating ourselves in order to feel safe and secure.

Being conscious in your new pond

In our familiar pond, we generally spend our swimming time in a normal thinking-judging-reacting mode or day-dreaming while in the throes of daily routines and habitual activities. In our new pond, we will need to be alert, aware and neutral.

Swimming with this new awareness, we are present in the immediate moment, not judging, not thinking and not reacting - just present and aware. Awareness fosters inner peace, well being and clarity. It enables us to greet new experiences with a sense of openness and curiosity. In this new pond, we are transformed; we seem to swim free of anxiety, depression, unhappiness, loneliness or deep sadness and longing.

Are you ready to dive in?

Would you be willing to experience this new pond in order to experience well being, possibility, and a sense of groundedness?

If so, the first step is to explore your little fish in your little pond, taking stock of your habits, beliefs, addictions (chemical and non-chemical), and self-limiting thoughts that keep your little fish depressed, suppressed and repressed. What is your little fish attached to, obsessive about, and driven by? What drives your little fish to want power, control, recognition and security?

Once you uncover what drives your little fish and choose to let go of your needs to control and possess, your little fish begins to transform into a trusting, surrendering allowing fish that is ready to swim in another pond.

Swimming, now powered by our heart and soul, we begin to build trust and faith that in every moment, we are guided to move in the right direction. In this new pond, our sense of identity comes from a deeper place, not the place of our limited mind and ego.

Swimming with your eyes open


  • Do you consider yourself a big fish in a small pond? How is it to constantly maintain that image?
  • Do you always compete with the other fish in your pond? Why?
  • Are you content in your pond or are you always searching for a bigger pond?
  • Is the water in your pond clear, healthy, and sustainable? If not, why not?
  • Do you need chemicals to keep your pond healthy?
  • How would you describe life in your pond? Balanced and harmonious or stressful and stormy?
  • Are your eyes clear as you swim?
  • What kind of fish are you? Why?
  • Are you constantly searching for bait or being baited? What's that like?
  • Is your pond inundated with pond scum? How can you clean your pond to make it sustainable?

In this new pond, we must swim with consciousness, always being alert and awake. Swimming instruction gives us tools and techniques to support our new way of swimming, such as:

We need to continually be aware of our breath.

We need to allow our vulnerability.

We need to stay away from self-destructive beliefs, illusions and fantasies.

We need to pay attention to what we sense, feel and experience in our bodies.

We need to trust, surrender and let go of our dogmatic thoughts and beliefs.

We need to express gratitude consistently.

We need to trust our heart and soul to direct us to right knowing, right understanding and right action.

We need to be open to change, synchronicity and intuition.

We need to look for balance in our sense of our self, our finances, relationships, and daily activities.

We need to reconsider (re) prioritizing our goals so they truly support our inner sense of balance, harmony and well-being (not our ego).

The new pond with clear water

"Hiccup Hole isn't just a pond. It's a symbol... of freedom... and justice... and home, and country, and, and, and... apple pie!" (101 Dalmatians)

Moving to a new pond and keeping our water clean, clear and life-sustaining, means knowing when our neutral mind is being muddied by our "rational and logical" mind. Our neutral mind is awake, alert and conscious. Our "rational and logical" mind is tangled up with worry, goals, judgments, invidious comparisons, and constant busyness.

The new pond of clear water at work, at home, at play and in relationship is still, quiet and relaxed - in mind, in body and in breath. Here, we are awake and vigilant as we swim. We are open to new experiences, higher awareness, and the support of our heart and soul. We are mentally and emotionally at peace.

In this new place, there is no bigger pond, no better pond - just one pond. In this new place, we swim in the stillness of the moment, with our breath – free from the hustle and bustle of activities and the nagging of our rational mind. In this new place we transcend time and space while being present in time and space.

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About The Author

Peter Vajda
Peter Vajda

Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D, C.P.C. is a seminar leader, workshop facilitator and speaker. He is the founding partner of True North Partnering, an Atlanta-based company that supports conscious living through coaching, counselling and facilitating.