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What is a Mind Monkey?
Mind monkey or monkey mind, from Chinese xinyuan and Sino-Japanese shin’en 心猿 [lit. “heart-/mind-monkey”], is a Buddhist term meaning “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_monkey
I’m sure you’ve been there… You’ve created something that you’re super excited about and the time comes to get it ‘out there’ and then they start… little grunts and chirps soon become loud hoots and howls – the Mind Monkeys have come out to play! And it’s not just when you’ve made something, these cheeky chimps seem to raise hell when what we actually need is a reassuring word to say “everything is going to be OK”.
Crazy thoughts appear from nowhere:
- What if they DON’T like it!?
- What if they DO like it!? (can I cope with the success?)
- What if I DON’T like it!?
- Am I good enough!?
- What if it’s a failure!?
- What if I’m a failure!?
- I don’t deserve this!?
- Mine’s not as good as…
‘What if, schwat if!’ We need to manage those mischievous monkeys!
Those sneaky simians can play havoc with your confidence but, much like when your mum told you to ignore the person who was annoying you when you were small, we must not give them rent free space in our head. They may make a lot of noise but we must rise above and tell them that you acknowledge them and are going to do to anyway and it IS all going to be OK.
Those artful apes are really just our ‘head mind’, or ego, trying to ensure that we are safe. That we’re not doing anything that is going to challenge the status quo. But we are in control of that… to a certain extent. It’s part of us after all and it’s the part that is quite happy to stay where we’re at. It is our inner fears being made manifest in our mind… which all to easily becomes manifest in our lives.
Just remember that fear is part of growth:
“Truth 1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
Truth 2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
Truth 3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out… and do it.
Truth 4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
Truth 5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.”
– Susan Jeffers, from her book “Feel The Fear… And Do it Anyway”.
So, next time you hear those puckish primates start giving you grief, take a deep breath and walk forward with your head held high and replace those doubts with positives like:
- They are going to LOVE it!
- I am going to LOVE it!
- I AM good enough!
- It WILL be a success!
- I am AWESOME!
- I 100% deserve this!
Go out there and make some seriously great stuff happen (and then tell me about it!!) 🙂
Here are some examples of how others deal with those mischievous monkeys:
Saz: “After many years of therapy and being a therapist I think one of the most important things is to recognise the patterns of those mind monkeys and what the themes are of what they say to you. You may recognise these as Parental messages which can often be controlling or critical, I then imagine myself turning down the volume on those message and allow the nurturing parent to be much louder! there is a lot more to it than this but its a good way to start!”
Patrick: “Go to the gym and exercise hard. It’s a great way to turn off the overthinking. Exercise is one of the most basic forms of human action. You lift things up and you put them down. Or you put one foot in front of the other for three miles. It does not require much thought and the effort forces you to be in the moment and stop thinking about anything else.”
Lisa: “I practice and teach Mind Calm Meditation, a modern and effective meditation technique which teaches you mind mastery – when to use the mind as the amazing tool it is, and when to put that tool away when the job is done!”
Marie: “I learnt a ‘certainty anchor’ (NLP technique) over a year ago – massive help! It helps when you have those voices.”
Fiona: “I stand in front of a mirror and give myself a really good talking too! Like a naughty child. Then smile …and tell myself I am doing a fabulous job – works for me.”
Corinne: “I tend to reach out for second opinion as to whether it is mind monkeys or something I need to sort.”
Laura: “I think about the alternative when i am low and it delivers a big slap in the face – i hated my previous job. I set up a little achievements document last year. It is just a word document with heading for each month. I have outlook calendar reminder to update this every month what I have achieved. When questioning my worth i look back on it to see what I have achieved and always make me value my journey.”
Tracy: “A good walk out in the fresh air does it for me. Used to do this with beloved Dog Wonder but have to go solo these days.”
Kim: “I use music and writing. I am a big fan of writing my morning pages (this is from The Artists Way by Julia Cameron) – dumping all the clutter down on paper clears the flow and then the good stuff can flow. It’s a bit like drain cleaner lol! I also use music to shift stuff too. I have loads of other easy to do stuff too that I use to shift from negative to positive state.”
Manda: “I am reading ‘Full Catastrophe Living’ which is huge, but very, very good. For an easier read: the Mindfulness Manifesto. Either way, the more we practice mindfulness (attention to the present moment) the easier it becomes. And the more our brains shift to accommodate it.”
Other blog posts about Mind Monkeys:
Turning The Monkey Mind Into A Pussy Cat
Buddha: How to Tame Your Monkey Mind
Quiet Please! Taming ‘Monkey Mind’ in Meditation
How do you tame yours?
I’d love to hear how you tame those noisy little rascals – please do comment below and share your tips. 🙂
Thanks for the mention Sophie. I hope that your readers can use exercise to flush out that overthinking.
Absolutely! Exercise has been a big part of my life this year and certainly a positive shift for both mind and body 🙂