Control Your Monkeys – The Monkey Mind

monkey mindThe Monkey Mind is a Buddhist term that describes the incessant chatter that we all experience in our heads on a daily basis.

The Monkey Mind

Characteristics of the monkey mind include being unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; and uncontrollable. It describes a mind that jumps from thought to thought as a monkey jumps from tree to tree. The monkey mind is not content with existing in the present moment; and it is constantly distracted by random thoughts.

It is the chatterbox, or that critical voice that you constantly hear in your head. Your monkey mind never has a nice thing to say about anyone, including you. It is that mean little voice in your head that tells you that you cannot do a certain thing, or you are not good enough, or makes a snide comment about something observed externally. It can also be the origin of many impulsive bad ideas.

Have you ever drank too much or engaged in some kind of mischief that you later regretted? That voice that prompted it all was the monkey mind. You know you were a victim of the monkey mind when after such episodes you catch yourself saying, “Well it seemed like a good idea at the time.” The monkey mind is convincing and very skilled at leading you to believe that things feel logical when in fact they are not.

Fear seems to be an especially noisy monkey for people like me who own their own business or if you are going into a new life-changing venture. As time goes by, I have learned how to calm it but the first step is always in realizing that fear monkey is the one chattering away and it can be intense. Fear monkey’s favorite things to bring up are failure, going broke, losing everything, looking like a fool, etc. I can usually squelch the chatter by looking at the worst thing that could happen, which most often is not and will not be the end of the world. Fear monkey then shuts up for a while.

The other monkey that runs amok for most people is the critical and judging monkey. The one likes to compare you to other people, or other people to yourself. This monkey NEVER has a nice thing to say, ever. It is the monkey that constantly talks smack and his favorite subject is basically that you are not good enough, smart enough, capable enough, attractive enough, and so on. And if he can’t come up with anything about you to bring down, he is more than happy to point out the shortcomings of random strangers even. This monkey is a little bit slyer as he is not as intense as fear monkey but his messages are more subtle and constant. Acceptance of yourself, self-love, and acceptance of others will bring this little monster to bay. When you learn that everyone is doing their best as well as yourself and you believe that, judging monkey will act up less and less.

Being able to manage your monkey mind is one of the best things you can do to transform yourself. It can help you to manage fear, learn how to be less judgmental, and keep you from making those bad decisions that seem so great in the heat of the moment. Observe how the monkeys behave – listen to them and get to know them, especially the fear monkey. Take time to practice quieting your mind on a regular basis and learn how to change the conversations in your head. Practice kind, positive self-talk and see how it can transform your troop of wild monkeys into being calmer and less distracting.

Does your monkey mind create chaos in your life? Which monkey tends to be the loudest for you? Do you have ways to settle down your own monkey mind?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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