I was recently reminded of an ancient fable that teaches us about what we hold on to and whether or not that serves us. The story takes place in ancient China where, apparently, there was a monkey problem. To set a trap for the monkeys, the villagers cut a narrow opening into a coconut and filled it with some rice. The opening was just wide enough for monkeys to slide their hands into the coconut.
Sooner or later, hungry monkeys would smell the rice and reach their hand in to the narrow opening. When the rice was in their grasp, they could not remove the food. Their clenched fists could not fit through the narrow opening. As long as they maintained their grip, they couldn’t get the food in the coconut, or any other food.
The lesson is we need to ask ourselves what is our rice and what is keeping us from opening our grip and letting it go.
How many times have we maintained a grip on something that keeps us stuck?
A couple of weeks ago, I re-created a trap for myself, the trap of unrelenting standards. I could feel my fist closing. And gripping. Eventually I was gripping so hard that it actually began to hurt. It was then that I realized I was banging the coconut against my head.
Because I have dealt with this thought trap many times before, I recognized that I needed to hit the breaks. My mental load was becoming too heavy.
I thought about all the ways I needed to let go of the rice. Not forever, just for now.
• I let go of my focus on other people and took time to focus inward.
• I let go of unnecessary information (news, social media etc).
• I let go of planning and preparing for things that I actually have no control over.
Take a moment to ask yourself some important questions.
Are you holding on to something unnecessarily?
Do you have to carry this thought, or hurt feeling, or negativity?
Do you really need it? I mean, really? Is this the only option?
Or are you just banging your head with a coconut.