Are You Caught in a Monkey Trap?

view ape thinking primate

If a monkey discovers a treat in a gourd, it will reach in, grasp it, and refuse to let go even if it cannot pull the treat-filled fist back out of the hole.

It’s a common way of trapping them, I gather.

Humans are prone to making the exact same mistake. We grasp onto things that do not serve us, to the point where it traps us into situations that make us miserable.

Part of that is due to habit and identity. For instance, I spent so many years living on as little money as I could that I had problems breaking myself out of that mindset when it was time to move on.

Another part could be societal programming. We hold on to things like clothes, furniture, food, and possessions because society tells us that it is horribly wasteful and bad for the environment to just toss that shit and move on. We’ll tell ourselves that we’re going to find someone to pass the items onto or place them in a donation bin but we never get around to it–and when we do, we ignore the cognitive dissonance of handing off the problem of “too much stuff” to someone else.

There are several reasons we could be holding onto something that doesn’t suit us. We could have been taught that divorce is wrong so we stay with an abusive mate. We may have heard that only sluts and “bad girls” wear cosmetics and actively dress in a certain manner.

Sometimes, we simply lack the courage to experiment. While we tend to experiment routinely while young, time can lock us into habits that we hesitate to change. “Why fix it if it’s not broke?”

There is a danger to this. If we refuse to change, to evolve with the times, we can become old and bitter before our time. If you’ve ever had a conversation with an elder who insisted upon complaining about technology, shifting societal mores, “kids these days,” and so forth, pay attention.

That is your future if refuse to let go and embrace change.

Monkey traps can sneak up on you. That outfit you wore when you were twelve. The furniture that belonged to your dead relative. The hairstyle you haven’t changed since high school. The types of movies you watch. The books you read. The places you go. The thoughts you think.

When was the last time you mixed it up, made an effort to do things in a different way? Have you ever looked around and realized that you keep the things that you keep and use the things that you use out of habit?

Did you decide to do things differently? What happened? Please share your stories in the comments below.


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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Barnes and Noble
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Smashwords (non-DRM)

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4 thoughts on “Are You Caught in a Monkey Trap?”

  1. I find that I often get caught in ruts or ‘monkey traps’. Sometimes it’s obvious, other times it’s pointed out to me and sometimes I actually succeed in stumbling on the solution myself. Change can be hard. I’m used to cleaning a certain way, for instance but I found that shaking things up a bit is much more effective. Tackle a problem from a different angle, shake up the routine… I’m trying a number of different things currently to find what suits me best right now. I’m not done experimenting but I’ll let you know the results soon because so far they’re looking rather promising!

    I’ve always stayed with safe hair colors. Ya know…normal stuff. I’ve decided to go with purple. Want sure I’d like it but I do. I really do. 😁 It’s time to step out a bit!

  2. We sold nearly everything we owned, including a house and two cars, and moved into a motorhome to tour this great country of ours. That was a huge shakeup. Several years later we are off the road again and living in a one bedroom apartment with just the stuff we use or that has meaning to us. And I stopped dying my hair and love my white/gray hair.

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