The story goes that if you want to catch a monkey, you put a hole in a coconut, and inside the hole you put some nuts or fruit. You tie the coconut to a tree and wait.
A hungry monkey will put his hand down the hole and grab the fruit or nuts in his fist. When he attempts to take his fist out of the hole, he finds that his fist is too big.
The legend states that the monkey becomes trapped, not because of the coconut, but because of his unwillingness to let go.
The metaphorical coconut trap is something that everyone deals with.
Do you hold on to times people have hurt you in the past? Are your feelings still hurt from painful words that were said to you? Or do you continue to agonize over times when you have messed up? Is letting go of your own mistakes difficult?
There are two people in a row boat, each one with an oar. One person feels hurt or angry, and they stop a rowing, while their partner keeps at it.
The boat moves in a circle, going nowhere.
The anger, frustration, and pain people experience keeps them from working together to move forward.
These tightly kept feelings don’t do any good. They don’t change the past, and when acted upon they do not change anyone else.
They merely keep you stuck.
Another trap that keeps people from feeling free is regret over what they did or didn’t do in life.
It’s like a cage, where they feel like they’re interacting with the world, but they’re being held back. It may feel safe to hide under anger or resentment. But the reality is that this cage keeps a person from participating in and enjoying life.
Most people don’t even realize what it is that’s keeping them from moving forward.
They may blame their unhappiness on their bad luck or how other people treated them. Or perhaps they may understand their own role in the situation. They understand by holding on to their anger and hurt is like poison. They know they’re trapped by it, but they feel powerless. They hold on to their hurt and pain as if it’s the most important thing in the world.
For some people, holding on to their anger or pain becomes the center of their lives. It becomes the scapegoat for everything wrong, for all the missed opportunities in their life.
Most people greatly underestimate the amount of control they have over themselves. When children are young, they have a very difficult time managing their feelings. However, as people mature, they gain the ability to recognize their feelings and decide what to do with them.
If you are holding on to a deep sense of anger, what can you do to find reconciliation?
The first step is to realize that what you’re holding on to is not helpful and is something you want to change. Then you can begin to figure out how you can get to a place of peace.
Do you need to talk your feelings out with a friend or therapist? Do you need to write a letter or have a conversation? Is it enough to decide in your mind that you don’t want to hang on to the negativity, or do you need to do something physical?
Once you are able to let go of these emotions, once you let go of the fruit or open up the cage door, you will have a sense of freedom that you never imagined.
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Free Yourself From Anger, Resentment, and Hurt - New Wings (April 12, 2014)
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Last reviewed: 11 Apr 2014