I first heard the following story through my pastor. Today I'm taking it from Dan Miller's 48 Days to the Work You Love.
"...let me tell you how they catch monkeys in Africa. The natives take a coconut and at one end cut a hole just large enough for a monkey's hand to enter. The other end of the coconut is attached to a long rope. They then carve out the inside of the coconut and put a few peanuts inside. They place the coconut in a clearing and hide in the trees with the end of the rope. The monkeys come around, smell the peanuts, and reach inside to grab a fistful. But now, with a fistful, their hand is too large to retract through the small hole. Then the natives yank on the cord and haul that silly monkey to captivity because the monkey will not let go of those few lousy peanuts that he thought he wanted."
How does this story relate to fear? By not letting go of our fears we are like the monkey not letting go of the peanuts. We could be free, but instead we allow ourselves to be captured over a few peanuts. The peanuts are representative of our fears.
What are your fears? Are they "what if" questions that you cannot answer, fear of the loss of social status, fear of the loss of loved ones or friends,...? These fears are a hindrance, and they will cause your life to become stagnant. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, definitions for the word stagnant are: 1) stale and 2) not advancing or developing. So, while life may be predictable as you hold onto these fears, the stagnation that is occurring in your life is slowly causing your soul to die. Your personality, your joy for life, is slowly fading...
In other words, like the monkey, because you will not let go, you are stuck. The irony of being stuck is that the hope you have of becoming a better you or of living a better life stands before you. Yet, this hope/wish/desire cannot become a reality until you let go of your fears. Paraphrasing what someone told me, "If your hand is closed, you are holding onto something. Yet, at the same time, you can't receive anything." Learn to let go of your fears.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12 KJV)