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Are you caught in a monkey trap?

Noun[edit]

monkey trap (plural monkey traps)

1. (literally) A cage containing a banana with a hole large enough for a monkey's hand to fit in, but not large enough for a monkey's fist (clutching a banana) to come out; anecdotally used to catch monkeys that lack the intellect to let go of the banana and run away.


Do you hang onto old stories and keep playing the rerun over and over in your mind?

Even if you’ve edited it several times the outcome will still be the same as the past can’t be changed.


Every time we rehash a past event, whether it’s an argument, an irritating situation or a catastrophe we are reliving the thoughts, the feelings and the emotions again and again and again.


It’s the same when we project our perceived outcomes of a future scenario. We tell ourselves “If this happens, I will feel …”


Honestly, we can’t predict our reaction because we really don’t know for certain what the future holds.


Often the mental imagery is accompanied by physical sensations, this could be tightening in the stomach, a headache, pain in the neck or shoulders and this causes dis-ease both mentally and physically.


The only way to overcome this is to let it go and bring your attention back to the present moment.


Here’s a few ways things to do that:


  • · Notice when the mind is ruminating in the past or projecting to the future, focus on your breath bringing your attention back to the present moment.


  • · Recognise it and call it out, name the thought, past, future, worrying, fearful or name the ache or pain. Ignoring the pattern won’t help, it will fester and come back again and again.


  • · Challenge and question your mind, “not now’ or for fearful, worrying thoughts “It’s Ok, I’m safe” and “What if that doesn’t happen?” works well.


  • · Journal, let it all out, don’t worry about punctuation or grammar, then burn it and it’s done. Finished. Gone.


  • Vent to your partner or a friend, make it clear that you need a listener not a fixer.


My own personal rule is that I can only vent 3 times as after that I feel that I’m falling into “oh poor me, victim” mode and I don’t want to go there.


The mind can be strong, sneaky and persistent and it will take a lot of effort to recognise and let go of old ingrained thoughts or a worrying thought pattern.


Certainly there is deep trauma that may require professional guidance to deal with past events or anxiety and eventually release its hold, don’t delay if you feel that you need some help.


Not only does being stuck in the past or predicting the future keep us from moving forward it stops us enjoying the freedom to be found in the present moment.


Are you like the monkey and just can’t let go?


- Definition frrom Wiktionary


Image Photo by Patrick Beznoska on Unsplash

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