Drop the Banana!

istock banana hand 2Rumor has it that the best way to trap a monkey is to lock a bunch of bananas in a cage with bars just big enough for the monkey to reach in and grab one – but too narrow for him to be able to pull out his hand WITH the banana in it.  The monkey will keep holding on to the banana trying to get it out even as the trappers approach to haul him off to the zoo.  In fact, he will yell and scream and frantically twist it every way he can in order to free himself WITH the banana before being captured.

He will do everything except let go of the banana.

The point of the story is that so often, the things that we desire the most are the very things that trap us and steal our freedom.  For example, we struggle to let go of people that we care about who no longer fit easily into our lives as we grow and transform.  Our bananas may be old attitudes and beliefs about ourselves and what we are capable of becoming. Our bananas could also be destructive habits that we have not yet conquered.  Whatever it is, we firmly believe that it belongs in our hands no matter how irrational or emotionally expensive it is to hang on to.

It’s one thing to have your hand caught in a trap that you are powerless to spring – it is much worse being caught in a trap of your own making. So why is it so hard to let go of the things that limit and trap us.  There are tons of psychological reasons that all tend to dead end into that four letter word “fear”.  We are afraid:

  • That this banana is last banana in the whole world
  • That we can’t function without this banana
  • That we will starve and die without this banana
  • That someone else will get this banana

The only thing we are not afraid of is that we will never be free unless we let it go.  The desperate, fearful mind only cares about what it can hold on to now – not the great things that could happen if we let go.  If we could make it through the fear of letting go – who knows what could happen!? We could:

  • Run free in the jungle and not end up in a zoo…..or worse
  • Find even more bananas – I mean really, this banana came from SOMEWHERE right?
  • Coach the other poor monkeys in traps that won’t let go of their bananas
  • Write blogs about the dangers of caged bananas

By the way – the fact that the dang thing is locked in a cage should have been the first clue right?  But we never see the bars of the cage until our hand is trapped inside – all we can see is what appears to be something we desperately need.  This is unfortunately true in life as well.

How do we let go of those things, people, attitudes and beliefs that literally stunt our growth? And while we are at it, how do we help many of our clients that live in these traps everyday begin to trust themselves enough to let go?

Awareness:   Once you see it you can name it.  Like the monsters in the bedroom closets of our childhoods, if you call them by their name – you steal their power. (This works best if the monster has a hideous name like Willard in which case he runs screaming away at the sound of his own name).  Once we know that the person we can’t let go of or the thing we can’t let go of or the beliefs we can’t let go of  – are much like an addiction, it changes the way we see them and moves us from victim to warrior.

Reality Check:  Is this really the last banana in the world? On some level we know the answer but the fact that we never ask this obvious question is part of why we stay trapped. If we REALLY believe that this is the last one and it’s worth being enslaved forever to have it – then we need to go “there” and find out why our perceptions of the world are so small.

Alternatives:  The world is full of fruit ok? Go find some apples or pears or kiwis or oranges.  Stun your friends and become the envy of the tribe.  When we focus on “one thing” being the answer to all of our needs – we totally block out all the other fantastic alternatives that we haven’t even considered.  Desperation narrows our perspective – pull back and look at the vast array of alternatives.

So what is that one banana that you can’t let go of that’s stunting your growth and keeping you trapped? Let go of it.

It’s probably rotten by now anyway!


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