Are You Holding on Too Tightly?

Did you ever just grab hold of something and hang on so tightly your hand hurt?   When you hold on physically, you can also hold on with your mind.  Say for example, you are waiting for a job offer and that wait dominates you.  You are holding on tightly as your mind keeps returning to the thought of the prospective job.  Tension builds inside you.  You may think holding on tightly is exactly what you have to do in order to receive the offer.

There is a more effective way.

When you let go of tension, you invite ease in helping you gain what you would like.  Tension keeps you focused on the strain.  Instead, release and focus on what you are after.   Take a step back and make room for what you would like.  Make room to look at the bigger picture of the whole situation rather than just the single detail.  The job offer will be made or you will be turned down all the while the rest of your life continues.

Here’s an example of how holding on too tightly has a big impact on a life.  In South America, monkeys are trapped by setting out a small-necked container filled with bananas.  The monkey wants a banana and reaches in and grabs one tightly.  Wanting the banana so badly, he is unable to pull his hand with the banana back out.  The bottle’s neck is only wide enough for the hand or the banana rather than both at the same time.  The trapper throws a bag over the monkey.  The monkey is trapped.  The monkey was holding the banana so tightly, he lost sight of everything but the banana.   Have you held onto what you were doing so tightly you lost your focus on the bigger picture?

One key to releasing tension is to let go of your tight grip.  First, do what it takes to soothe yourself, whether it is deep breathing, talking a quick break with a short walk or just inviting yourself to be calm.   As you relax, things will look different, leading to different and better outcomes.  You’ll notice:

  • a bigger picture
  • a greater readiness for whatever happens
  • an increased control of your attention
  • more specifics about your surroundings
  • details making it easier to find your solution and obtain what you want.
  • increased flexibility.

When you relax your body, it’s easier to relax your mind.  You think of more options when you’re calm and centered.  You think more thoroughly to find creative solutions.  For example, can the monkey turn the container upside down and just have the bananas fall out?

Step back to see the whole picture.  Is there an easier way to retrieve the banana?  Is it even the banana you want?  When attending to a small detail, you miss what else is going on that may provide answers.   There may be someone with a smaller hand than yours who can get in, and even out of the trap.  You can only see that if you expand your perspective.

When you hold something too tightly, it takes your focus.  Open your focus by relaxing your grip, calming your attention and broadening your perspective.  Be open to all possible solutions.

–Caron MacLane

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