May 5, 2022
Let Go of the Peanut
Often what keeps us stuck is our stubbornness in maintaining our grip on something, to blame something else, to blame someone else, to blame what we cling to so tightly. But so much can happen when we choose to let go and live with our hand open.
An ancient Chinese story about catching a monkey with a coconut illustrates the perils of not letting go.
In the story, a hunter makes a hole in the coconut just big enough for a monkey’s open hand to fit and places peanuts inside the hollowed-out fruit. After a hungry monkey reaches into the coconut to grab the peanuts, it now has a fistful of nuts that won’t fit through the hole. The monkey that doesn’t let go of the nuts is the monkey that gets captured by the hunter.
It isn’t so much the act of letting go. It is what we are letting go of: a desire, a want, a yearning for something – or someone.
As long as the monkey maintains its grip on the peanuts it will remain a prisoner of its own making. Struggling will not set it free. Nor will crying or becoming anxious. The trap works because, above all else, the monkey’s hunger is in control.
We need to ask ourselves: What is our peanut? What is preventing us from releasing our grip and letting it go?
This story reminds me of several life experiences. The most recent being the launch of Her Again. Like many passionate entrepreneurs, I wanted to kick off my new business exactly as I had imagined it, right down to the timeline. But one day I realized that the timeline was my peanut – the more the launch didn’t happen the way I believed it had to, the tighter my grip became. My hunger for a particular outcome was my master. I was the monkey with a fistful of peanuts, unwilling to let go.
I have (humbly) unfolded my fist and have seen how challenging surrendering can be – for all of us. It isn’t so much the act of letting go. It is what we are letting go of: a desire, a want, a yearning for something – or someone. The good news? There are peanuts everywhere, though sometimes stubborn monkeys (and humans) in moments of hunger don’t believe it. For our lives to truly unfold, we need to let go of the peanuts we want so badly – the ones that are trapping us despite our best efforts. Our journey to un-stuckness begins when we open our hands.