Apparently people in India use a simple trick to capture monkeys. The trapper fastens a piece of cord to a tree. On the other end he attaches a coconut. The coconut has a hole just big enough for the monkey to put his hand in. Inside the coconut the trader puts some nuts or something else to eat. Then he waits out of sight.
Monkeys are curious, and sooner or later a monkey discovers the contents of the coconut. The monkey can put the hand into the coconut easily enough, but once he has grabbed the snack, he can’t pull the clenched fist out of the narrow opening, no matter how hard he tries to break free. The monkey is trapped.
The irony is that all the monkey needs to do is let go of the food, and he will be free. The monkey is not trapped by something physical, but by an idea – the idea that he has to hold on to the food.
Is the monkey stupid? Maybe.
But as human we can easily find ourselves in situations that resemble a monkey trap. We are held back by an idea or belief we are not willing to let go.
I find the monkey trap a great metaphor for how certain ideas and beliefs can hold us back. Sometimes, to break free, we just need to let something go.
As John Maynard Keynes put it, “the difficulty lies not in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones”.
Related to the monkey trap is the idea that people are often not disturbed by things, but that they disturb themselves by holding rigid and extreme beliefs about things. Read on Linkedin
Next time you find yourself trapped, ask yourself if you are not caught in a monkey trap.
PS: To get informed when we publish a new blog post, click here to sign up to our mailing list