Eastern philosophies have given the appropriate name of ‘monkey mind’ to the constant unproductive chatter continually running through our heads. Some western philosophies may call this ongoing conversation ‘the committee’ – representative of the number of internal voices weighing in with their opinion on the decisions we are making. Regardless of what you’d like to call it, no one can argue that we’ve all got an influx of thoughts, conversations, and running dialogs speeding through our heads at a frantic pace.
Some of these thoughts and ideas are exciting, invigorating, and have the capacity to connect our actions with our values. Others tell us our dreams and goals are unrealistic. They say turn around before you make a fool out of yourself. What would others think if they knew you were going to do that? What makes you think you could be a success? Soon the excitement of our dreams pass, and we can credit these voices for stopping us dead in our tracks. This is the quality and power of monkey mind.
What is Monkey Mind and where did it come from?
Monkey mind is the negative internal chatter that talks us out of our dreams. Its the voice in our head that says – turn around and go back, its more comfortable here! Its the aspect of our mind that swings from doubt to worry and back to doubt again, like a pendulum stuck in a never ending cycle which can only reach these two outcomes.
Many people have studied Monkey Mind to try to determine where this tendency in human nature arose. Some theorize that this was a critical evolutionary step for our species which enabled us to make rational decisions when we were facing dangerous scenario’s, like those of fending off wild animals. Perhaps this doubt and worry kept us alive through a different time of human history. Perhaps there are some situations even today in which it keeps us safe. The modern life landscape however has changed.
Whatever the reason, monkey mind is alive and present in modern day humankind. It rears its ugly head not upon the attack of the saber tooth tiger, but rather in today’s modern day equivalent – when we are faced with a big challenge. When we are uncertain what a future outcome will be. When we decide to listen to our heads rather than our hearts.
What can I do?
Step 1 in fending off monkey mind is to recognize your formidable opponent and become aware of the conversation that is going through your head. Observe the quality of the conversation. Be willing to laugh at it as you recognize how silly some of the dialogue can be. Know that this conversation is not who you are, its just simply the passing thoughts that go through your mind – good, bad, neutral, our thoughts weave in and out and flow in many directions. Having a bad thought does not mean we are a bad person – it happens to the best of us. Step 1 again – listen to the conversation and be aware it is there. Don’t try to stop it from happening, simply be curious.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of listening to your internal dialogue, and you are hearing it – rather than ‘being it’, simply tell monkey mind – thanks for sharing! I understand what you are, and I really appreciate your feedback but I know what is important to me. I have a clear life vision. I know what change can bring and that is exciting to me. The doubt and worry you offer are not the principles that guide my actions. I choose to live by my passions, curiosity, and dreams. So, I appreciate your feedback and thanks for sharing!
Done. Its that simple. Monkey mind will try to get in the last word- but aren’t you afraid – STOP. Thanks for sharing, check out how great it will be to find the partner of my dreams, start a business…(fill in the blank). When you are connected with your values, your mission, your vision, who you are in the inside, you’ve established a toolset to fend off monkey mind. You’ve built a fortress of defenses that can quiet the negative voices and re-direct them to the conversations of meaning of importance to you.
Becoming conscious of monkey mind and learning to quiet it is a skill like any other. We train our brains to think in a specific way. And it all begins with understanding how we work. I highly recommend the free tools provided on this website, like developing your vision, the goal setting process etc., as part of your pathway towards quieting monkey mind to bring more success into your life.
“If you’ve found this site useful, please link to it so that others can benefit!”
Written by Doug Nau, i-grow.net