Sometimes you need to let go of old thinking to reduce your stress levels. Unfortunately, most people have a hard time letting go of outdated thinking and old techniques.
Consider the following story. An expedition of scientists went on a mission to capture a Tonkin snub-nosed monkey. Only an estimated 100-200 of this particular species exists, and they reside only in the jungles of Vietnam. The objective was to capture one of the monkeys alive and unharmed.
Using their knowledge of monkeys, the scientists devised a trap consisting of a small bottle with a long narrow neck. A handful of nuts was placed in it, and the bottle was staked out and secured by thin wires attached to a tree. Sure enough, one of the desired monkeys scented the nuts in the bottle, thrust an arm into the long neck, and grabbed a fistful. But when the monkey tried to withdraw the prize, his fist—now made larger by its contents—would not pass through the narrow neck of the bottle. He was trapped, anchored in the bottle, unable to escape with his booty, and yet unwilling to let go of it. The monkey was easily captured.
We may smile at such foolishness, but in some respects humans often tend to operate in the same manner. We cling to the very things that hold us back, remaining captive through sheer unwillingness to let go. So often people fail because of what they will not give up. They cling to what has always worked, clearly after it has stopped working.
What Can You Let Go Of?
Practicing the principles of positivity, choice, and reflection (talked about at length on this website) reduce stress while simultaneously improving relationships—a necessary ingredient for achieving greater results. Here are some key points:
- Negative comments engender negative attitudes. Positive comments engender positive attitudes. People who are effective in reducing stress phrase their communications in positive terms. Positivity brings hope. In addition, positivity results in fostering us to feel valued, enthusiastic, supported, respected, motivated, challenged, capable, and proud.
- Either consciously or nonconsciously, people choose their attitudes and responses to any situation, stimulus, or impulse. Choice-response thinking—the understanding that we can always exercise control and need not be victims—may be one of the most valuable thinking patterns we can employ.
- Reflection is a powerful strategy for handling stress. It is also the most effective approach for bringing about change because reflection engenders self-evaluation, which is both noncoercive and empowering. Asking self-evaluating questions is a skill that is only developed through practice.
Implementing the three practices until they become habits is the most powerful approach to reducing stress and enjoying life’s journey. This mindset requires that you let go of ineffective approaches that you may have been using for years. When first implementing these three life-changing and stress-reducing practices, you will feel uneasy—until you have practiced them enough to make new neural brain connections that form new habits. Implement now; you can refine later.
My new book, Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey, is now available as a Kindle book. This book will show how to use some simple strategies to significantly reduce your stress, promote responsibility, increase your effectiveness, improve your relationships, and truly enjoy life’s experiences.