THE LESSON OF THE OLD MOLDY PEANUTS
THE SAD TALE OF AVOIDING LOSS
THE LESSON: DON'T BE A NON-THINKING MONKEY
To trap monkeys, the trappers would put peanuts in a jar with a mouth barely wide enough for a monkey to get his hand in. When the monkey grasped the peanuts, he could not pull his hand out of the jar for his fist was too big.
But the monkey really wanted the peanuts and could not let go, even when threated by the trappers coming.
In the same way, people hold onto their old moldy lives and beliefs, not willing to let go even though they could "save their lives", so to speak, and have much greater lives than the ones they would live if they weren't stuck in avoiding any loss, avoiding letting go of anything, even if it were rotten and hurting life.
BUT, WHY? HOW COULD THAT BE SO?
Though the monkey didn't really need to hold onto the moldy peanuts in order to have enough food to survive, at the moment he must have believed, in a short term illusion, that his life was at stake.
And, so it is with humans who have not done the reexamining of old beliefs.
One fellow I know even identified his life as a "ruined life", where he was stressed out, anxious, unhappy and even stressed out his spouse with the barrage of negatives in his life.
It turned out that he thought that he might lose the esteem of those with influence and lose the ability to make a difference. He thought that he must hold onto the idea of not risking disapproval. He thought he had to hold onto getting little bits of approval for his performance and for being so contributory. He was "driven" (as a non-thinking captive) by his believed "needs" (which are not really needs!). And he proceeded to go forward like a lemming into the sea to drown.
He said, and it seemed true, that he truly wanted to live a better, not-ruinous life and have a good relationship with his valued wife, but that turned out to be a "no contest" loser in the battle, where he gave up his life for the compulsive short term "needs" that he had and the need for "some good feelings", fed to him to keep his addiction going with "intermittent reinforcement" like the Rat Pressing The Dopamine Lever (see sidebar).
It is true that the rat got instant reinforcement, but it can keep a person just as hooked and even more strongly hooked by only providing reinforcement only once in a while in an unpredictable way. That is one of the key insights in psychology.
He is hooked, like the monkey hooked on the old, moldy peanuts.
I believe this concept of the old moldy peanuts was from the trainings in LifeSpring, which I would strongly recommend. It is used in the growth industry as a metaphor for avoidance of risk or loss to the point where one gives up his life as he steps into the trap.