Controlling my inner chimp

The past months I’ve been working on controlling my thoughts. I was recommended a book “the chimp paradox” the mind management programme for confidence, success and happiness. I like to think I’m a positive person but sometimes I would get negative thoughts and didn’t know how to deal with them. The book has helped me so much in understanding what's going on in my head as well as to what other people are thinking or feeling and how to react in those events. Once I figured out how my thoughts worked, I was able to understand others and communicate more effectively with friends, family, clients and even strangers. Chimp is referring to the Limbic system in my brain that controls emotions. Then there is the human which is me, this is the frontal lobe of the brain. The human and chimp have independent personalities with different agendas, emotions and thoughts, both can take over and control your life but mostly they try to work together. It’s up to you who is going to be in control. The human or the chimp? The chimp is an emotional machine that thinks independently from us and it can be very constructive or very destructive; It is not good or bad, it is just a chimp. Managing your chimp so you know when it’s working for you and to neutralise it when it is not. As the chimp is given to you at birth you are not responsible for the nature of your chimp but you are responsible for managing it. Next to the chimp and your human there is the computer which will store the information the other two put in. Now how do we know when or chimp or human is in control? Chimp and traits of emotional thinking:
  • Jumps to an opinion
  • Thinks in black and white
  • Paranoid
  • Catastrophic
  • Irrational
  • Emotive judgement
Human and traits of logical thinking:
  • Evidence-based
  • Rational
  • In context and with perspective
  • Shades of grey and balanced judgement
Now it’s time to put this in practice and learn to understand yourself and your chimp. By doing the following exercise: Spend 5-10 min each day on reflecting and looking back on situations that have happened during your day and revisit them and work out the different ways that the chimp and human could have handled them. Was it emotional or logical thinking? For example, consider a common scenario where someone may have said something that disturbed or troubled you and how you responded to it. If you later thought it was unhelpful, think through how the chimp responded and then think through how the human could have responded. The more time you spend on thinking and reflecting on how your mind is operating, the more likely it is that you will improve your future functioning. “THE GOLDEN RULE IS THAT WHENEVER YOU HAVE FEELINGS, THOUGHTS OR BEHAVIOURS THAT YOU DO NOT WANT OR WELCOME, THEN YOU ARE BEING HIJACKED BY YOUR CHIMP” For more information on this subject I recommend you read the book! And I’m more then happy to discuss this with you and help you in managing your chimp.     By: Carmen Bosmans, Performance Coach