In some parts of Africa, people drill small holes in the trees and fill them up with banana chips. The hole is big enough only for a monkey to insert its hand. Once a monkey grabs the banana chip, the fist becomes too big to pull it out of the hole. You would think that the monkey will let go, but it doesn’t. It gets trapped and it gets caught by the villagers.
This story is a metaphor for how we often deal with our “negative” emotions and thoughts and get stuck.
Nobody likes to feel anxious or fearful.
When you try to control “negative” emotions/thoughts by thinking more about them, you feel more and more trapped. It makes sense to let go of what is actually causing you to destress, but you keep holding on.
You get caught in the vicious cycle and feel that you are losing control.
We all do that, by the way. To a degree.
We have been thought NOT TO DEAL with our feelings.
The Monkey mind tries to get rid of them only to get stuck more and more.
What does our self-help community suggest to us? Relax somehow and focus on the positive or change your thoughts at will to eliminate uncomfortable feelings. Really? How?
What makes sense in the logical world doesn’t work in a world of emotions. Why?
Because 7% of the mind can’t control the other 93%.
Dealing with life requires dealing with emotions and thoughts. Feeling the range of emotions is not a disease.
Why do we do the wrong things for the right reasons?
Learning to accept our feeling is what Steven Hayes in his book “A Liberated Mind” calls Psychological flexibility.
Here are a few ways to develop Psychological flexibility skills:
- Acceptance. Allow yourself to feel. Set up your Feeling Goals.
- Presence. Redirect your attention to the NOW. Choose to pay attention to how you feel in the now.
- Greater purpose. Highest values create greatest motivations. Choose to BE rather than DO.
- Committed actions. Build your new habits in small steps. Focus more on the reasons and the process.