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A Rat with Winter Flab

This week, two little girls in Germany discovered a rat stuck half in and half out of a sewer grate. The rotund little creature couldn’t go in and couldn’t go out thanks to “a lot of winter flab,” according to news outlets. The local animal rescue couldn’t free her, so a whole team of firefighters was brought in to help. A few hours later, the rat was freed and the two little girls, so happy with the rat’s safe rescue, gave the firefighters big hugs and a drawing of the smiling rat with hearts all around it.

Many people responded to this news story wondering why in the world so much effort would be put into freeing a creature considered by most to be a nuisance. One of the firefighters responded to this criticism by saying, “Even animals that are hated by many deserve respect.”

The firefighter’s words made me smile. Overeating rats (and people) get stuck. So often we meet people who, like the rat, are stuck in a dilemma of change; halfway in and halfway out. The easy and reflexive thing to do is to blame the rat for eating one too many bratwursts or think that this rat got what she deserved and shouldn’t have been crawling around in the sewer grate anyway.

Even though it takes a bit more effort, it works a whole lot better when we show up — like the firefighter did — with respect for her struggle; working to unstick the stickiness of what’s holding her back and move in the direction she wants to go.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.