You may have heard this analogy before in other success and self-help literature, but it is such an excellent metaphor for how we often move through life that I think it bears repeating.
The story goes that when poachers want to catch monkeys in the wild, they set out a heavy, closed box that has a small hole cut in the lid. The hole is just big enough for a monkey to squeeze its hand in. They then put a mash of damp, moldy peanuts inside the box. And wait.
The smell lures the monkeys like moths to a flame. They can’t resist it.
The monkey reaches into the box and grabs the bait. But its peanut-filled fist is now too big to pull out of the hole. The poacher then walks in and captures the monkey with ease. Unwilling to let go of its new-found treasure and escape, the monkey’s fate is sealed.
The solution seems obvious to us: just let go. Not so much to the poor monkey.
But in many ways, aren’t we, too, like the monkey? Don’t we hold on to moldy, even potentially poisonous, addictions that destroy our health and well-being? Habits that derail us? Internal dialogues that undermine us? Beliefs that no longer serve us? Toxic relationships that drag us down with drama and dysfunction and, sometimes, even abuse?
Maybe it’s time we took a long, hard look at some of the so-called treasures we desperately cling on to — simply because they are what we know. Because they are familiar and comfortable and “normal” to us. But they’re killing us, holding us prisoner.
Maybe it is time to let go of the moldy peanuts in our lives and escape to freedom.