Catch and Release

Saturday morning we all went out in kayaks and most of us were fishing.  I paddled up to a mangrove island and parked in the shade, casting out. 


I was using shrimp and darn if I didn’t catch a big catfish right off the bat. But guess what? No one was around. I guess they were on the other side of the island, not sure. I panicked. Why, you might ask. Because, unlike any other fish, saltwater or fresh, I can’t take a catfish off a hook. 

With the hooked fish dangling in the water, I paddled to the end of the mangroves to see around them. No kayaks in sight. Who was going to take the blasted catfish off my line?! 

Cut the line? I wasn’t positive I had extra hooks along.

To make a long head-argument short, I had the presence of mind to ask myself why I could not just unhook the fish, a task I’ve handled a thousand times. Oh, yeah, I remembered. 

When I was little I fished in our lake by myself most every day, kicking up minnows to use for bait. I would catch brim after brim. Kept an eye out for water moccasins, which were everywhere. Just down there by myself having a good ol’ time UNTIL I would catch a catfish. Then my fishing would be ruined because I was “not allowed to take a catfish off” my line. 

I had been told by my dad to just wait until he got home from work and he’d do it. He said their whiskers were very bad and would hurt if they stuck me. So, I’d find something else to do until 6 p.m. and then pull my dad in to resolve the problem. I followed this rule for fifty years.

Never properly questioned it until last Saturday. Is this actually a problem I can’t solve?

I reached in my tackle bag, grabbed a pair of plastic pliers and gripped the hook, shook the fish, and he was off and away. 

I was awfully proud of that first. 


Let’s look at what you know you cannot do, and see if that’s a lie. 

Wait! You may feel an urge right now to leave. Your mind is telling you to scroll to something else to read, or to check your phone, or get something to drink. 

This is the machinery of the mind. It hates the notion that “things are not written in stone.” Those things like beliefs, opinions, and risk-adverse decisions have sufficed and need not be messed with, the mind emphatically says.

Just for two minutes, do your best to turn off the machinery or distance yourself from it so you have the space to consider something unusual. 

Write down 3 things that somewhere along the line you decided you cannot do, things that at some moment in time you considered doing, but then decided no.  It may not at first look like it was your decision; it may seem that you tried and failed, or found out you have no aptitude, or that it felt way too risky.  Often it’s something that someone else told you that you could not or should not attempt.  Just think of 3 things, big or small, maybe from an early age. 

Once you have three things written down, ask yourself 2 questions about each: 1)When did you decide this was something you were not going to try again? 2)What justifications have you found for that decision? 

That’s all. It’s a simple exercise. Now you can determine if what you “know” about yourself is a choice or a lie. 

More in-depth inquiry: 

Who told you no?

Why did they do that?

What are more of your limiting beliefs? Look at every place you sense there is a ceiling above you or an anchor below you, holding you in a defined space. 

Just focus on being aware of these. There is nothing to do about these today, just enjoy the unusual practice of questioning the machinery of your own mind. This builds your muscle of thinking for yourself. Freedom from limiting thoughts can be yours.

All you need to do is catch yourself acting on a limiting belief, and release it. 

Catch and release.

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