Negative Thoughts and Emotions Only Leads to Misery and Suffering – for You

By Lydia Wilson
For The Bali Times

KEROBOKAN ~ Last week one of my friends told me a true story about how African monkey poachers can easily catch monkeys from the forest without hurting them. It’s so simple that most of us would be amazed how they do it.

The monkey hunters prepare and bring with them long and narrow-necked, heavy jars with small openings. They fill the jars with nuts scented with strong aromas and bury them in the ground with the opening exposed. They leave them overnight and in the morning they come back to catch the monkeys without any problem.

You probably know by now how they do it. The monkeys who are attracted by the aroma of the nuts come curiously and put their hands into the jars and grab them. As they will not let go of the nuts in their hands and as the jars’ opening are too long and narrow for them to pull their hands out, and the jars are too heavy for them to uproot from the ground, they are trapped and can’t go anywhere.

This story reminds me of the similarity of what we do sometimes. Perhaps there’s something that we can learn from it. A lot of us tend to hang on to our negative feelings or grudges towards others, and we end up trapped like the monkeys. Our chest feels heavy and tight; our body feels tired and lacks energy; we get chronic aches and pains, such as back pain, headaches and migraine; we suffer indigestion; and in severe cases we are struck down by chronic illnesses.

Feelings are not who we are. Our feelings are only what we create from our thoughts and perceptions. It’s our choice how we wish to deal with our thoughts and feelings. Like the monkeys, as long as we hang on to our negative thoughts and feelings, we suffer.

Perhaps you would like to try this exercise:

Find something small that you can hold in the palm of your hand, something like a pen or a small ball or even a hairbrush. Now let’s pretend that this item is your feeling. Now play with it, roll it around your hand and discover how it feels like when you are playing with it. Now squeeze your hand and hold it really tight in your hand for about five minutes. How does your hand feel? Now imagine what your hand and your body would feel like after two hours of holding on tight to this item? Can you imagine what it would feel like after two years? Now open your palm and just drop the item to the floor – what does your hand feel like now?

We have the choice to hang on to our negative thoughts and feelings or to find a way to let go of them. We also have the choice to decide when we would like to let go. Do we wish to hang on to them for two months or two years or for the rest of our lives, or do we wish to let them go now? We are the one who can make the choice and no one else can make it for us.

Some of us prefer to forget our negative thoughts and feelings. Trying to forget is not the answer either, for as long as we don’t resolve the conflict within our mind, it will still be there, hanging on at the back of our mind and sooner or later will resurface.

Let’s discuss the benefits of us hanging on to our negative thinking and feelings. Can you think of any?

Perhaps some of us believe that when we hang on to our grudges, anger or hate, it makes the other person suffer.

First of all, if they don’t know we are angry with them, they won’t feel it anyway, so we are the one left suffering in silence by ourselves.

Or perhaps we know they care about us and we expect they should know what they have done to hurt us by sulking or treating them coldly. We think they will worry about us and it will make them feel guilty. What would happen if they didn’t know why you were sulking? We sometimes forget that trying to make the others feel guilty without them knowing why only brings resentment on their part and instead of them being nice to us, they resent us, or get angry or irritated with us or just ignore us even more. And we would still be left to suffer alone in silence.

Some of us hang on to our negative feelings because we fear that if we let go, the hurtful incident will happen again, so we feel we need to protect ourselves from it ever happening again. However, living in fear also creates tensions in us and if we don’t resolve it or let it go, the fear will only grow bigger and spread into other areas of our lives. We would learn not to trust other people that come into our lives in the fear that they would do the same to us as those who have hurt us in the past. As a result, we are not able to open ourselves to love and friendship. Hence we are the one who suffers, too.

I can’t think of any benefit from holding on to our negative thoughts and feelings – can you? Except that when we have suffered enough we feel motivated to figure out a better way to deal with our thoughts and emotions. Hence they teach us to let go and find peace.

I can think of plenty of benefits when we let go of our negative thoughts and feelings:

It frees us from the tightness and heavy feelings in our body, such as in the chest, stomach and throat areas;

It frees us of backache, headache, migraine and so on;

It brings us a healthy body;

It brings us closer to others;

It gives us the ability to trust those who love and care for us;

It brings us peace and happiness;

It makes us feel our body is full of energy again;

It helps us create and maintain loving and caring relationships with others;

It sets us free to live a life filled with joy and enthusiasm.

How long do we want to hang on to our suffering? When do we wish to let go?

Till next week, love and light.

Lydia Wilson is a transpersonal hypnotherapist and trainer based in Kerobokan, Bali. If you have a question you would like answered in this column, write to Lydia at For more go to

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