Have you ever felt trapped in your own personal Groundhog Day of recurring frustrations and other emotions?
Do you wake up each morning fearing it’s going to be a replay of the days and weeks before?
Do all your efforts to change your situation end with the same result again and again?
The common denominator in all our problems is our self, whether we want to admit it or not. Other people and situations may seem similar in our day-to-day life, and it’s easy to blame them for our woes, but people and events are just moments that pass.
We, however, are the permanent factor in all our experiences.
Fortunately, we can walk or run away from other people and situations that cause us frustration and stress. We can’t, however, run away from ourselves.
Which can be a problem. A big problem.
Especially when we turn to alcohol, gambling, drugs (prescribed or otherwise), and other means of escape, like having an affair, or continual job seeking, or travel just for travel’s sake.
But you can’t run away from yourself.
Your problems always follow you, no matter what new job you’ve just secured, or the new relationship you’ve just begun, or the next holiday destination you’ve just landed.
Every second marriage in Western countries ends in divorce. But it’s actually worse for second and third marriages—60% and 73% end in divorce respectively.
Wherever—or whomever—you run to, you always take your baggage with you.
In the jungles of Africa, legend tells of an ingenious method to catch chimpanzees. In a small cage, hunters secure a banana to one of its bars as bait. The cage itself is also fixed, usually to a branch of a tree, so that it cannot be wrenched loose.
Once set, there is only one way to access the banana: the chimpanzee must place its hand through an opening to grasp the bait. The chimpanzee is free to let go of the banana whenever it realizes it’s fixed and it is just as free to remove its hand from the cage and flee to safety.
Yet the chimpanzee will not let go of the banana, even when the hunters have returned and are poised to bag their prey.
Herein lies the beauty of the banana trap: the chimpanzee has been trapped by nothing other than its own self:
It is a prisoner of its own desire.
Seneca, a Roman poet around the time of Marcus Aurelius, said:
“He who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary.”
There is probably an event in your past in which you have hung on to that has caused, and may still be causing, unnecessary stress, frustration, despair, even anger.
Yet our primate cousins aren’t the only ones to fall victim of The Banana Trap. Probably every human being that has ever lived has, at least once in their life, become trapped in it.
The Banana Trap is nothing less than the physical or psychological experience of stress and suffering caused by our unwillingness to let go of our ‘bananas’.
These ‘bananas’ are the internal and external stressors we hang on to, and they tend to fall into four categories:
- Pleasure and Pain
- Beliefs and Behaviors
Each ‘banana’ is different and unique to each person because it is based on our:
- Instincts (Fight and Flight responses)
What will trap some will not trap another. Here is a list of some common ‘bananas’ that trap us in The Banana Trap:
POSSESSIONS: House & Car, Work & Career, Partners & Children, Jewellery & Art, Money
EMOTIONS: Fear, Anger, Hatred, Pride, Greed
PLEASURE & PAIN: Sex, Sport, Entertainment, Drugs, Illness
BELIEFS & BEHAVIOUR: Religion, Atheism, Socialism, Capitalism, Just Causes
Although it may seem daunting and overwhelming, freedom from The Banana Trap of repetitive emotions is possible.
This is because the one true thing you have control over is the power to choose.
You have the power to choose what you focus on. And what you focus on, you experience.
Focusing, therefore, on your ‘bananas’—Possessions, Emotions, Pleasure and Pain, Beliefs and Behaviors—and then choosing to let go of them, frees you from confining walls of The Banana Trap.
Not only that, it prevents you from returning to your old ways and hanging onto whatever is causing you pain and stress.
It keeps you free for as long as you choose.
That’s your power.