There are tribesmen who developed a simple way to capture monkeys.
They created a trap that has a small opening through which a monkey can easily reach if its hand is outstretched. They put a fruit in the trap. The monkey reaches in and grabs the fruit in its hand and tries to pull the fruit out in its clenched hand.
But the clenched hand will not fit through the opening, and the monkey is trapped as long as it keeps its hand clenched around the fruit. The outstretched hand will fit through the opening, but the clenched fist will not.
The monkey could easily free itself if it would only release the fruit.
But it won’t.
The traps we create for ourselves
How about you? Can you relate to this story?
Is there something that you are holding onto that is keeping you trapped in a life you don’t like? Perhaps you are holding onto memories of nasty Aunt Mildred, the co-worker that got you booted from a job, or a friend who betrayed you?
And don’t even get me started about the holidays!
Even before you see those relatives or old friends who tormented you over the years, you feel weighted down by the burden of unpleasant memories and dread another tension-filled holiday.
Do you notice that when you start to think about some of the unpleasant relationships in your life, your energy level drops? And aren’t there just “some people” who you know will never change? Ouch!
That thought brings the energy down even more. Would you like to free yourself from that negative energy?
I’ve learned there are three things that can help you release negativity about others…
- You can forgive
- You can forget
- Or you can throw them under a truck
Personally, I recommend the first one—forgive. But unlike the monkey, it will mean letting go.
The art of letting go
You cannot experience something new unless you are willing to let go of something old. If you try to hold on and let go at the same time, it doesn’t work.
One of the major beliefs many people carry is that there are forces — and people — in the world that are working against them. They call these forces “the devil,” “Satan,” “evil,” “bad luck,” and so on.
But the truth is, there is nothing—and no one—against you. This is a concept taught by Gary Simmons in his book The I of the Storm.
Try that on.
How do you experience your energy when you consider there is nothing—and no one—against you? Do you think I’ve lost my marbles to believe this? Or do you experience a sense of relief, possibility, and spaciousness?
Believing that anyone or anything is against you (that is, holding onto negative thoughts and beliefs) will entrap you in a life of limitation and bondage—like the monkey holding onto the fruit. (I don’t even want to think of what happened to the monkey after its captors got hold of it.) Is this something that you want in your life?
Many of you dread holidays and family gatherings because it involves connecting with family and friends that you manage to avoid most of the year. You avoid them because they caused you pain in the past. Yes, sometimes the people you love can exhibit behaviors that are challenging and painful.
But what if you could transcend your “pain and suffering” modus operandi and heal whatever emotions well up when you are with these people? Would it be more interesting to love yourself enough that you could love everyone else more?
Forgiveness is the key
Forgiveness allows you to forego pain and suffering and “give for” a more joy-filled, abundant life. This is how you free yourself from the trap of holding on. Forgiveness is not making excuses for others’ action or stifling your feelings. Forgiveness is giving up one perception for another, more enriching and empowering one.
Forgiveness is giving up the need to be right. Forgiveness is about love—love of self, love of others.
Holding onto grudges and anger are self-destructive. Unforgiveness and resentment only hurt the person holding those feelings—not others.
Unless those feelings are healed—unless you totally forgive—you are denying yourself access to healing, prosperity, loving relationships, peace in your heart, joy, and all the other good you could have if you would only let go.
So if you find yourself holding onto some thought or feeling or habit that is hurting you, remember the monkey, open your grip, and free yourself from the trap of the past.