New Blog Post: The Chinese Finger Trap


by Weston Crafton, Refuge Center intern

Have you ever tried the Chinese Finger Trap? You place your finger in both ends of a small cylinder, but when you try to remove your fingers you notice resistance. You are trapped. The harder you try to release your fingers, the tighter the grip. After trial and error, you soon realize the way to get your fingers out of the trap is to push your fingers toward each other. You have to push into the tightened grip to release your finger.

When we avoid or resist accepting what is, we are really giving that which we are avoiding power. It takes a lot of personal energy to try to control that which we cannot. Yet, our need for control keeps us so eagerly attempting to avoid that which think in our mind we cannot accept or tolerate. This road of experiential avoidance eventually imprisons us, many times in ways we don’t realize. We try to get away — we are trying to pull our fingers out of the trap. But just like the trap, our efforts are paradoxically keeping us restricted, constrained, away from the peace we desire.

What do you find yourself avoiding? How are you responding to the resistance you feel? How do you release your fingers from a Chinese Finger Trap? You push forward toward the tightness. You push forward toward the anxious thoughts and expectations — rather than pulling away. And when you push toward that which you are attempting to free yourself from, you find freedom.

Eifert, G., & Forsyth, J. (2005). Acceptance and commitment therapy for anxiety disorders: A practitioner’s treatment guide to using mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based behavior change strategies. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

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