There is a parable of the scorpion and the frog. It’s about both creatures needing to cross a pond of water. The scorpion asks the frog for a ride on its back, so they can both cross the pond. Skeptical, the frog is reluctant to such a thing. Froggie asserts how, once the scorpion is on the frog’s back, the scorpion will only sting and kill it. The scorpion responds with reassurance, emphatic about how that, of course, will not happen, as they both need to get to the other side of the pond.
The frog takes this in. Tt seems like a reasonable point.
So, somewhat reluctantly, the frog allows the scorpion to hop on its back. And they start the trek across the water.
Halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog. In pain and blindsided by the action taken, the frog questions why the scorpion did such a thing. “Now we’re both going to die.”
The scorpion responded, “I stung you because it’s my nature.”
There exists a concept, stating that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.
Scorpion Manipulation Number One: “That was then. This is now (I have changed).”
Okay. Past behavior. The concept that, yes, people can change.
Yet, often, when we deal with toxic individuals, we are squinting, like the near-sighted kid, absent eyeglasses, trying to read the chalkboard.
Where IS that change?
I’m looking. Can’t see it.
Some telltale signs that, yes, hopeful change is occurring, maybe giving a shifty scorpion a deserved second chance?
They are in therapy, ACTIVELY working on themselves…
They have directly, without rationalizing their bad behavior, to us, apologized for harming us…
They directly ask how they can correct their mistakes with us… and then, they consistently and thoroughly go about doing so, WITHOUT our prompting or handholding to ensure it happens every single time. They are proactive without employing our help in “making good.”
Not doing any of these things?
Well, then, the scorpion is getting ready to sting us again. We froggies need to beware. Their nature is still harmful.
Scorpion Manipulation Number Two: “Look at Me NOW (Even as I still struggle with major life stuff).”
The proof can be in the present behavior pudding. Yes, we struggle, have eras of our lives in which there are challenges, stumbles, and difficulties.
But again, the past and the present can be so enmeshed. We need to really look at what’s going on, without excuses and sugarcoating.
How is this person DIFFERENT?
Some examples of differences?
They have a job (and keep that job)…
They are sober (and stay sober, committed to a healthy lifestyle that supports their sobriety)…
They are paying their own bills (and no longer hit us up for money, in any way).
Any of these things happening? Yes, okay, proceed with caution, continually looking at the results of their behaviors.
If the answer is “no,” then back away, exit, love them from afar, and be on guard. The scorpion’s stinger is “if-y.”
Don’t get too close to it.
Scorpion Manipulation Number Three: “I will change (just keep enabling me forever, while I continue not to do the necessary work of change that I need to do).”
The toxic someday promises of future behavior?
“Just give me time…”
“When it’s a better time, then I’ll do it…”
“I’m planning on winning the Lottery. Then I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”
The someday promises all seem to wag as the scorpion’s stinger twitches back and forth.
Maybe it will strike us. Maybe it won’t.
That’s fun for us froggies, isn’t it?
The precarious reality, at best, of asking and waiting to see if Nature shows up again… or not.
“… ‘There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.’”
Lions, and scorpions, and frogs, oh my!
Scripture, ancient scripture, even calls out the future faking of the someday promise. It doesn’t materialize, because an excuse is at the center of every “reason” why changed behavior won’t happen for the scorpion.
The scorpion’s nature often thrives on excuses and procrastination. Tomorrow, later, and another time are usually the responses. Therefore, an actual “future” will not be different. It will be the same stinger as already experienced by us frogs. At best, there will be a suspended animation of waiting.
Do we want to wait, with no evidence of change?
If we frogs are honest with ourselves, the short answer is “no.”
Scorpion talk is cheap. Stinger actions can be expensive.
Right now, what’s happening? Potential and possibility are real. Miracles happen, yes.
But right now, as things are, without any of those concepts operating in full effect, what is happening?
Sometimes their behavior is your answer.