I hope you all know what a Chinese Finger Trap actually is. If not please Google it and you will quickly be reminded.  It is one of the simplest, most annoying yet profoundly powerful metaphors we have for life’s obstacles and challenges.

In brief, it is an inexpensive hollow tube designed with interlacing strands of paper like material. You place the index finger of each hand into each end.  Then you try to pull your fingers out. Despite the fact that this ‘device’ seems flimsy and fragile, it defies your ability to extract your fingers.  In fact, the harder you pull, the greater the resistance.

Hopefully, you soon figure out that the only way to extract your fingers is to relax and push them slowly towards each other. In this way, the ‘trap’ expands and you can slide your fingers gently out.

Force doesn’t work, it actually increases the problem and ultimate frustration.

Is the metaphor any clearer?

How often when faced with life’s challenges do we instinctively tense-up, become aggressive, explode in anger? Our responses are fear-based. We often feel cornered, threatened. We pull against the attachments which threaten to trap us further.

Perhaps, we would be better off resisting our initial impulse to pull away reactively. Perhaps we need to take a few deep breathes, relax into the chaos, and find that the alternative approach, through softness, kindness and clear-headedness will work to our advantage.

In the moment of quietness, the tumult can subside. We can see the solution before us. Perhaps it is the opposite of what we first believed it to be.

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