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What’s keeping you trapped?

There’s an age old method for catching monkeys used in Africa and Asia: start by take a gourd or bottle of some sorts with a hole just big enough for the monkey to squeeze it’s hand through. Tie it down with a rope, put some food in, and then sit back and wait. A monkey, smelling the food, will put it’s paw in to grab it. With its fist holding the food the hole is too small to pull out of, and the monkey will be stuck. Seems insane doesn’t it? The monkey can escape at any time by simply letting go of the food. But they don’t. They hold on. Though it costs them their freedom, or even life, they don’t let go.

As illogical as the monkey’s actions seem to us, people do the same thing - albeit in a less literal sense. Just like the monkey can’t see past the food in it’s hand to the greater benefit of being free, people often hold on to things in their lives at the cost of their greater happiness or success. Your relationships. Your job. Your dream. What are the things you are holding on to? Are you holding on to them so tightly that they are now trapping you?

Now just to be clear, I am not saying that we shouldn’t hold on to anything ever. There is lots of food that the monkey could hold on to and enjoy without being caught. Relationships are precious. A job is important. A dream can change our lives, or even the world. There is good reason that we hold on to these things. And sometimes we need to fight to keep them. But sometimes. Sometimes in holding on to those things that we value so much it costs us our freedom.

The key is not to hold on so tightly that you refuse to let go when it would be better to. One of my favorite authors speaks of holding on to things loosely. Caring about and appreciating what we have, but not clinging to it desperately. By loosening our grip we reduce our attachment and reliance on those things, and at the same time we open ourselves up to receive other opportunities that come our way.

It can be an incredibly valuable exercise to step back and evaluate the things you are holding on to and ask yourself how tightly you cling to them. In that regard, here are some thoughts to consider:

Everything in your life carries a certain weight. A measure of it’s value. We cannot deal with everything in our lives as if it all weighs the same. Some things are more important. Some things matter. They weigh more than others; and they should. It’s way too easy for us to blow things out of proportion in our minds, giving them a weight in our lives they shouldn’t have. Most things in life have a price. Even love. Sort of. Stay with me here. A new car costs money. Keeping my job takes work and effort, and requires getting up in the morning. My marriage asks my time and compassion and commitment and care. To hold on to something means that I have to pay the price for it. If you give too much weight to something you’ll become willing to pay too big a price for it. You end up losing out on the deal.

Second is perspective. Your point of view. Holding on to something too tightly zooms your perspective in on that thing. It’s like those super close up photos of everyday things - what turned out to be a butterfly looked like some sort of giant monster from the depths of childhood anxiety. We can become so focused in on stuff that from our perspective it’s huge. It can become so big that it‘s all we see - which means that there is a whole lot that we don’t see. Your world is a lot bigger and fuller than just the things you’re holding on to. If you don’t stand back sometimes and look around you might pass by all sorts of opportunities and never even see them. The future you have planned out might be all you can see right now, and feel like it means everything, but there’s more out there. You just need to look up and view your life from a different perspective.

Lastly, letting go of things can be scary, especially when it’s something you’ve come to value highly. But as long as you hold on to the things that are keeping you trapped, you won’t be able to move forward and live your life to it’s fullest. Choices that lead to greater freedom and growth always work out better in the long run.

Copyright 2017 Crest Life Coaching