Rigid Thinking and its Monkey

Yesterday I went to a meeting and I was reminded again of the limiting nature of rigid thinking. Rigid thinking is when you have ideas and beliefs about the world and your place in it that are absolutes; there are no grey areas, it’s either this way or no way at all and there’s no room for considering alternatives because new information and evidence are disregarded to protect the rigid position of the person in question.  I used to do this all the time and I still do, I’m sure, but I’m heaps better at overcoming rigid thinking than I was in the past.  The first thing I did to smash this stupid practice down was to acknowledge it. I also evicted the monkey.

Rigid thinking has its own little pet monkey that you get to carry around on your back when you let yourself be rigid. It sits there and smashes its toy hammer on your head every step you take. It never lets you forget that its sitting there because its always smashing away and over the years it gets heavy and bloated. Its quite a load to carry, and it will invariably invite its friends over for a head smashing party and they will stay for an indeterminate amount of time. “Far out, I’m so sick of the racket! Will you guys just shut up?” You might scream, but they just laugh maniacally and keep hammering. One day, after years of monkey-oppression you decide that enough is enough and you take one of your rigid ideas and you look at it from all angles. You hold it in your hand and turn it over and see that it’s actually quite an unattractive thing. It has no colour, no depth and there’s a slickness to its surface that you find terribly unappealing, but because it’s been there for so long, you can’t just chuck it away in one fell swoop. Instead, you put it back inside your head, but now you keep your eye on it. At the same time, the monkey sends some of his friends home and the hammering quietens down. You watch that rigid idea from the corner of your eye and you can really start to see how it colours your experience of the world in a negative way. The more you watch it, the more you see it doing this and eventually you decide that the idea is taking up too much real estate in your already overcrowded brain, so you kick it to the curb. To your great amazement, the monkey, and eventually all his buddies, get evicted too. You feel a great weight lifted from your shoulders and the world all at once appears to be amazing in a way you never believed possible.

One monkey is all it takes, just one. If you can challenge a rigid belief or thought and experience how it feels to alleviate the burden of carrying around something that restricted your life rather than enhanced it, the whole thing will come cascading down.

Adventure is an awesome way to shake monkeys off and adventure is available to all of us regardless of who we are, where we live and how much money we have because adventure is about novelty, innovation and creativity: qualities that are purely human and transcendent of anyone’s’ personal situation. Also transcendent of monkeys.