Monday, June 14, 2010

Monkey Trap!

I am so bad about stewing over things ... holding on to those pesky irritations, conversations, wrongs, what have you. When I'm feeling all relaxed or just going about some normal routine, it seems as if my mind has to pull out something for me to ruminate over. Why do I do this?!?

I wonder how many other people also get wrapped up into this negativity. I liken it to the Tasmanian Devil character: my brain has to dredge up something, and I immediately commence spinning over it, getting myself worked up in a lather over something that really is unimportant. As if I don't have enough of other things to think about!

The other day I recalled a terrific story and have been using it to stop the Tasmanian spinning. It's the story of the monkey trap. Now, I've googled around looking for the story and have found different versions with different types of monkeys. So, I'm not sure exactly what type of monkey nor where this actually occurs (if it does), but the point of the story is what is important. I'll go with the version I found at the University of Texas' website where they have an informative post about the perils of perfectionism and rigidity. [Source]

The story goes that in South India, villagers use a special tactic for capturing small monkeys. The South Indians hollow out a gourd or coconut and place some rice inside of it. They leave a small hole in the gourd big enough that the monkey can put his hand through it. But, when the monkey grabs hold of the rice, his fist is too big to pull back through the hole.

Tempted by the rice and driven by hunger, the monkey will reach into the gourd, grab the rice, but suddenly finds he is trapped. He does not know that all he has to do is let go of the rice and he can pull his hand back out. Because he's hungry, however, he holds on to the rice and is unable to pull his fist out. He is trapped, thus making him an easy catch for villagers.

We humans are likewise easily distracted by possessions, ideas, and/or actions. We grab a hold of them and are trapped. However, we want the item so badly that we won't let go and remain trapped. We don't realize that if we let go, we are released from the hold of the trap.

So, lately I've taken to thinking of this story when I find myself doing my Tasmanian Devil spin about something. I just say to myself: "Monkey trap!" and pop my hand open as if I were letting go of that negative thought and releasing myself from its grip. It helps me to recognize that I was starting down that path of negative thinking, and of course that path is always about unimportant nonsense or situations over which I have no control. It does me no good whatsoever to allow my mind to become possessed by them and get myself upset.

Maybe this might help you, too, when you find yourself all in a lather over something ridiculous, something that happened a long time ago, or over something you have no control. "Monkey trap!" Let it go.

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