Getting Free with the Help of “The Mighty Metaphor”

by Jim Hassett, MA, LLPC

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures.”
Dr. Peter Fuda

Metaphors are powerful teaching tools because they open thinking, make complex ideas  simple, and are memorable, making them easy to recall and access when we need them most. In the next several blogs I will share with you some of the metaphors my clients have found helpful over the years. Feel free to comment on them or share your own. I will be adding new ones regularly, but begin with one of my favorites about how they catch monkeys in Southern India. Enjoy!

What are you holding on to at the cost of your freedom?

In the book Winning by Letting Go, Elizabeth Brenner tells how people in rural India catch monkeys. First they cut a hole in a box and anchor the box to the ground; then they put a tasty “sweet nut” in the box; and then they go hide in the bushes. Soon the monkey comes down from the forest canopy and reaches through the hole into the box to grab the tasty prize. Unfortunately, the hole in the box is just big enough for the monkey to put its hand through; with the nut in hand, its fist is too big to withdraw. That is when the trapper emerges from the bushes, leaving the monkey with two choices: Release the nut and go free, or hold on to it and get caught. Most of the time monkeys elect to hold on to the nut.

So what’s your “sweet nut?” What idea (thought, stereotype, person, thing, belief, “must have”) are you holding on to at the cost of your freedom? Is it worth it? Would you like to let go? What’s holding you back?

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