Letting Go and Movin’ On

monkeytrap.jpgI never tire of the story of how an elusive monkey in Africa gets captured. He reaches into a hole in a tree or through the neck of a large bottle and grabs hold of a handful of nuts that he loves. But then his clenched fist prevents him from removing his hand from the bottle. That which seemed to provide fulfillment of a treat, holds him in position ready to be collected as a captive. Better said, the tenacity of his will and his refusal to “let go” of his grasp thwarts his freedom. My monkey friend provided the opening story in my lecture last night for The Meadows entitled “Letting Go and Movin’ On.”  The material came together fairly well, but became memorable by the responses of the audience. So I thought I’d fill in the handout here with some audience responses.  We talked about what it means to let go of destructive thoughts and habits so we can move on in our personal growth and maturity.

Movin’ on means letting go of something.
Holdin’ on means staying the same.
Holdin’ on to the past guarantees that the past goes forward with you.
Grabbin’ hold of something new. That’s where the future’s at.

A. Let go of what? Why?
1. Things and “stuff” that holds up our standard of living
2. A job that is limiting and draining.
3. An ex-spouse
4. Old habits, old routines, old childish patterns of relating,
5. Addictions
Is it causing a problem?
Are you wanting replace it with something better?

B. What holds us back?
1. Need for control, need to be right.
2. Resentments, anger, unforgiveness.
3. Fear of the unknown, need for the familiar
4. Rationalizations

C. What does moving on require?
1. Vision of the goal – If I let go and move on, what will it look like? Feel like?
2. Focus on the higher ground – Like a toddler’s focus on warm, dry, clean panties.
3. Negative attitude toward lower ground – e.g. “Sugar is a poison, not a treat.”
4. Community – Someone to provide motivational feedback, to encourage.

D. Stages of Change – Where are you? (See March 14, 2008 blog post)

E. Putting it all together (worksheet)
1. Pick one thing that you feel is stuck and from which you would like to move on.

2. Identify your motivation to change according to the six stages of change.

3. Identify three ways you rationalize holding on to the old pattern.
a) ______________________________________________

b) ______________________________________________

c) ______________________________________________

4. Describe the vision of your goal.

5. Describe the virtues and the healthy feelings when you goal is reached.

6. Identify the toxic characteristics of the old pattern you have been in.

7. Identify and start to perform the disciplines necessary to move on

8. Report your progress and struggles and slippage to a trusted community

9. When you slip back, identify triggers, motives, convictions, and go to #5.

Simply put, while you’re putting off the things that are bad for you, discipline yourself to pursue the things that are good for you while you keep the ultimate goal in the forefront of your mind. Then be flexible about setbacks. From a spiritual perspective in the New Testament, Colossians 3:1-17 teaches this very thing. In the Old Testament, Jacob provides an example of this principle by throwing away the idols from his household and then purifying himself (Genesis 35:2). In Paul’s personal letter to Timothy, he tells him to instructs the brethren to let go of their “riches” in the present world and replace them with good works for God that can store up treasures in heaven. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

2 Responses to Letting Go and Movin’ On

  1. Doug Chisholm says:

    Where can I get one of those monkeys with his hand in the jar? 🙂

    I really like the concise nature of this article. Very helpful and informative. How many times as counselors do we see clients (and ourselves) holding on to things that help us in no way at all, just hamper our walk?

  2. leejagers says:

    I saw one of those monkeys just yesterday . . . when I looked in the mirror. Then I looked around and saw a whole bunch of them all around me! It seems that they all held tenaciously to that which was familiar, comfortable and predictable. These monkeys are hesitant to take the risks required for personal growth or to entrust themselves to any other Power. Thanks, Doug, for your visit and comment.

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