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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Something Shiny

As a child, I watched the television series Shaka Zulu that related to the life of Shaka kaSenzangakhona, king of the Zulu Kingdom from 1816 to 1828. In particular, one scene stood out and serves as motivation for the current blogpost. It unfolds as follows:

Lieutenant Francis Farewell: It is I, Febana.

Shaka: Tell me, Febana. How do you trap a monkey?

Lieutenant Farewell: Well, a gourd is used with a narrow neck. Bait is dropped into the gourd, a piece of fruit or...or something shiny. The monkey puts his hand down into the neck of the gourd and then he grabs the bait. And, uh...then he’s trapped, because he can’t get his fist out.

Shaka: Once he realizes he is trapped, why doesn’t the monkey let go of the bait?

Lieutenant Farewell: Because his greed makes him blind.

Shaka: And what is he greedy for, Febana?

Lieutenant Farewell: I don’t know. I suppose...for what he thinks he cannot have.

Shaka: And what new bait have you brought, Febana? Bring it here for this monkey to see. Something shiny? Like the freshness of youth, of life, of the past. Bait your gourd again, Febana. My heart yearns for something shiny.

Setting aside today’s standards of sociopolitical correctness, I appreciate that when Shaka realized he’d been trapped by his own greed the ruler used Socratic questioning (rational thinking) to reflect upon what it was that led to his downfall.

Though there may be many interpretations of the scene, I took away an invaluable lesson. Once we let go of that which doesn’t serve our interests and goals we can stop disturbing ourselves.

It wasn’t the shiny thing (Action) that led to an unpleasant outcome (Consequence) in Shaka’s case, though I suspect many people could argue against this suggestion. From a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) perspective, it was Shaka’s assumption (Belief) about the shiny object that caused his woes.

The viewpoint I’m illustrating herein relates to the ABC Model. Here’s how it looks:

Action – Lieutenant Farewell provided Shaka with opportunities for the king to abandon his principles and this led to the devastation of Shaka’s people.

Belief – Shaka could have believed something about the action such as, “Lieutenant Farewell mustn’t deceive me!”

Consequence – As a result of his self-disturbing belief about Lieutenant Farewell’s actions, Shaka experienced anger.

Though not depicted in the provided video link, the scene continues:

Lieutenant Farewell: Nkosi...that yearning which has brought about everything that has happened was as much your fault as it is mine. But hating my people is not the solution. We must search for another... together.

Shaka: Together? [scoffs] No, Febana. You’ve proved that you were never with me. You’re a man with no nation. You’re a shadow. Go! I have no need for you anymore.

Lieutenant Farewell invited Shaka to take responsibility and accountability for the king’s own part in the outcome that produced an unwanted Action. However, Shaka’s favor for an irrational Belief only fortified the unpleasant Consequence brought on by the king’s assumption.

Though Shaka was able to use rational thinking when questioning Lieutenant Farewell, it was Shaka’s own unproductive belief that needed disputation. Though the mighty ruler may have preferred not to have been deceived, he played an essential role in his own downfall.

Throughout my life, I’ve been presented with many shiny opportunities. It wasn’t until I began practicing REBT that I stopped upsetting myself with beliefs about self-entrapment from such alluring prospects.

How about you, dear reader, have you ever willfully refused to let go of that which doesn’t serve your interests and goals? Have you further allowed self-disturbing beliefs about such instances to cause unpleasant consequences?

Would you like to know more about how to release shiny things which trap you, and to free yourself from unhelpful beliefs? I may be able to help.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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