Are you familiar with the term “Rope-a-Dope?” If you are a boxing fan of the heavyweight division, you probably know exactly what that term means and where it originated. For those of you who don’t, “Rope-a-Dope” is a term Muhammad Ali coined to describe the tactic he used to win fights. This term gained notoriety after he beat the then champion George Foreman (the “dope”) with this so-called tactic. For clarification, a “dope” is facetious term used to described a person that is easily fooled – duped if you will. Ali had a way of leaning against the ropes and allowing his opponents to tire themselves out while trying to punch through his impeccable defense. He would then unleash a barrage of punches on them while they were too worn out to defend themselves, sometimes knocking his opponent out. It is at this point that I have an embarrassing (but humorous) confession to make – I fell victim to a “Rope-a-Dope” over the weekend. What’s worse was that it was my dog “Mex” that pulled this one on me. Mex has grown tall enough to reach some things on the smaller tables so he will inevitably grab something that he’s not supposed to have and run with it. Mex’s “Rope-a-Dope” strategy is to run around and under the dining room table because he knows he can’t be caught. Recently, I decided to chase him to show him who’s boss. The harder I tried, the more frustrated I became in my vain attempts to catch him. Mex even managed to sneak up behind me at one point to seemingly taunt me and my wife Lela had a front row seat to this spectacle. She laughed as Mex easily outmaneuvered me while I gave chase. I had played right into Mex’s hands…or paws (pun intended) because this exercise in futility was nothing more than a game to him. Of course, Mex immediately came to me, after I finally gave up chasing him, and I was able to get a that small receipt from his mouth. Have you ever fallen victim to the “Rope-a-Dope?” It may come in the form of you putting yourself in a situation where others can easily manipulate you or take advantage of you. Are you stuck making payments for a vehicle or loan you cosigned for because the cosignee disappeared and left you high and dry? There was a reason the bank required him/her to have a cosigner in the first place you know. Are you enabling the poor choices or addictions of a family member even though you know it’s unhealthy? How about that “boomerang” adult child who seems to keep coming back to live in the spare bedroom no matter how much you try to help him or her establish some independence. And what about that dreaded relative who is always just one more handout away from getting his or her act together? They have every reason in the book why this time will be different so you loan..oops..I mean give them money in vain hope that this will be the last time. Perhaps, you get baited into that same old argument with a significant other or one of your children even though you know it will be pointless and frustrating. That person you are in conflict with knows exactly what to say to push your buttons and you keep swallowing the bait..hook, line and sinker. Afterwards you feel foolish for not having handled the situation differently. It happens to the best of us. In order to avoid the “rope-a-dopes” in life, we have to recognize them for what they are and then choose to respond rather than react. I did say “choose” because it is ultimately up to us to decide. Many a parent feels guilt for the mistakes made in raising the children and they unwisely set themselves up for the rope-a-dopes by continuing to assume responsibility for them, even after they are grown. We continue to hold ourselves responsible for their wellbeing and we become enslaved by our fear of what will happen to them if we don’t rescue them. As inadequate a parent you may feel, you did the best you could with what you knew at the time and now it’s time to let them be responsible for themselves. You may be surprised by how well they pull it together once they realize the rope-a-dope plan is no longer an option. So give up the vain chase no matter what it is. It wont be easy but you will feel better, freer, and certainly less frustrated in the long run. Peace.