How Choosing to Let Go Can Reduce Stress [Parable]3 min read

Do you need to let go of something or someone to gain back some inner peace?

Let me share with you the interesting trick the Indians discovered to catch a monkey.

Monkeys are seen all around India. They are curious, playful, and to some extent energetic troublemakers.

Trying to catch a swift monkey is no easy task. So after many trials and errors, the Indians came up with an interesting trick to outsmart the monkeys.

First and foremost, to catch a monkey, we need to catch its attention. So we need something of value to the monkey and what better than a B-a-n-a-n-a ?!

The trick is quite simple: a bottle with a neck narrow enough for the monkey’s hand to pass through, plus a banana. Then they anchor the bottle to the ground and wait.

Normally it doesn’t take long for a monkey to take notice of the banana. Mr. Monkey approaches the bottle, carefully slides in its hand, and a happy “ooh ooh ahh ahh” as it grabs the banana!

But… Wait… The joy of grabbing the banana is not long lasting. The poor monkey is in panic. It squeals in despair: “aah aah! Let go of me!!!”

The monkey’s hand gets stuck in the bottle, and it seems impossible for the monkey to free its hand. The bottle seems to be holding onto the monkey. No matter how much the monkey squeals, the bottle has no intention to let go.

“Let go of Mr. Monkey! Such a bad bottle!”

The opportunistic locals run towards the monkey, and in a blink of an eye, darkness. The monkey’s head is covered with a black cloth and then thrown in a cage.

Eventually, in the darkness of the cage, the exhausted monkey opens its hand and lets go of the smashed banana. And the bottle lets go as well.

The hand is freed but unfortunately, the monkey’s precious freedom is long gone. It all happens so quickly that makes it harder to see clearly.

From far, it really seemed as if the bad bottle is having a tight grip on the monkey. But who is really holding on? The bottle lets go, only when the monkey lets go.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. ― Henry Havelock Ellis

Examine Your Banana


We invest in different things, be it a romantic relationship, a prestigious education, a promising profession, our youthful appearance. And despite our best efforts to create some stability and security, everything is bound to go through some form of change and transformation – mostly beyond our control.

The cause of much of our stress lies in our unwillingness to let go of our already expired bananas – whatever that may be for you.

Our mental coloring creates stories and beliefs around why we need to hold on. “Perhaps I am not holding tight enough… Perhaps I am not holding long enough… I won’t let go after all the years I have invested in this! What would others think if I let go?” 

Our own thought patterns and beliefs trap us, the same way the monkey gets trapped by a banana. Our mind creates attachments to familiar concepts, without properly examining and questioning their helpfulness.

I am not suggesting to let go of whatever causes stress in your life, but inviting you to examine your stories and beliefs behind doing so. Sometimes we need to let go, drop, and release; at other times, we need to hold onto what is of value to us. In either case, we need to pause and inquire before investing more energy and time.

Discard the unhelpful and limiting beliefs in favor of a freer you. A skilled counselor or coach can support you to understand and break through these negative patterns, allowing you to live a more satisfying life. Practicing meditation and mindfulness can be powerful tools to improve your filtering ability and emptying your cup. I will gradually post other tools and techniques to better equip you for your journey.

In the pursuit of happiness, we often create our own misery. I assure you that letting go of a bunch of already expired bananas will make your journey much lighter. The power is in your hands!

If you don’t get what you want, you suffer.

If you get what you don’t want, you suffer.

Even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.

Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change.

Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death.

But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality. Dan Millman

Guiding Questions

#1 What is your “banana”?

#2 Are you holding onto something of “real” value?  

#3 What are the consequences of holding on?

#4 What are the consequences of letting go?

Final Words

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Spend a moment thinking about that and sharing with us. This will help others visiting this page, and it will help you to remember what you learned! 😉