The Boiling Frog Syndrome And The Silent Deterioration
by Laura Sancho
You live for others and adapt to the circumstances. Little by little and without realizing it, you fall into a cesspool with no way out. Once you have reached the bottom, what do you do? Do you have enough energy to get out of there? What happened? These are some questions you ask yourself when, suddenly, you are in a situation that has left you psychologically exhausted. In this case, you may suffer from “Boiling Frog Syndrome”.
To know better what it is, we will first start with a fable…
The frog that had no idea it was boiling
According to Oliver Clerc, when we put a frog in a pan of cold water and start heating it slowly, the frog will gradually adjust its temperature to the water at the same time. Just when the water reaches boiling point, the frog can no longer adjust its temperature and tries to jump out.
Unfortunately, the frog is not strong enough to get out of the pan. It has lost all its energy in adjusting to the water temperature. As a result, the frog dies from boiling without any chance to jump and save itself.
Now, the big question we should ask is what killed the frog: the boiling water or its inability to decide when it should come out?
It is possible that if the water had been boiling at more than 50 °C when it was immersed, it would have jumped without hesitation. However, while tolerating the temperature of the water, it did not consider when it should come out and be safe.
Adapting to the silent deterioration
With this metaphor, we can refer to many situations that we live in our lives. We indeed have to adjust to the situations and relationships we encounter, but to a certain point. We have to learn to decide when to go on and when it is time to jump in and out.
The problem is that people unconsciously or consciously adapt to harmful situations by not leaving their comfort zone. In this way, responsibility is avoided and the circumstances or third parties are blamed, placing us in the role of the victim.
What are the consequences? We disconnect and abandon ourselves to our needs, desires or emotions that become invisible.
This behavior of passivity and submission is often confused with other healthy behaviors, such as empathy, love, acceptance or inner peace. Fear, low self-esteem, uncertainty and resignation are attitudes that diminish our ability to react, deteriorate us and subtly and gradually take control of our lives.
Tips to avoid these situations
• First, respect yourself and assert your rights. It may be complicated, but we need to feel uncomfortable for a while to discover and love ourselves.
• Set limits on ourselves, at work and in any other situation. We need to be able to say “enough!”.
• Not holding on the hope that things will change. Accept reality as it is, without creating expectations or assuming that you can change people because you cannot.
• Learn to distinguish when it is possible to be flexible to circumstances and when it is not.
If these tips are followed, our emotional well-being and dignity will improve and our self-esteem will increase. If you are having difficulty doing this on your own, get help from a therapist and lean on the people who love you.