Wild Monkey Brain

Wild Monkey Brain

I get my wild monkey brain more now. Sometimes it hops around and tells me I suck, what I should be scared of, why I should be ashamed. It does this a lot, actually. “Robin: I can’t believe you did that when you were 20. Seriously? What would people think? You suck.” Perhaps your teen’s (or yours) says something different.

Helpful in learning to manage it? Seeing I don’t have to try and make it go away, like I’d thought for a long time. (I was convinced I couldn’t be happy, healthy, or enough until I’d totally crushed the monkey and never heard the voice again.)

I’m learning that rather than trying to crush it (which is really, really hard — the wild monkey brain is good at hiding and disguise and feeds off my attention to it), it’s more effective to learn to more quickly recognize it when it pipes up. Then I get to choose if I listen to it or not. My giveaway: The monkey’s voice is more loud and buzzing than anything else. When I feel for it, it’s more of a surface annoyance rather than a concern with substance. I don’t feel a deeper and lasting “Yes, this is something to look at” inside. Instead, I feel more of a frenzied noisiness lacking substance.

I don’t have to crush it — I can choose to say thanks and no thanks, and then walk away. When the monkey isn’t fed with energy (and trying to crush it requires energy directed to it), it starts to shrink and quiet down. Yes, this takes regular practice to listen for it, to feel it out, to choose to walk away. It does get easier. And — it ultimately feels better. I feel better. My life feels better and ends up going more smoothly. And if there are things that do need attention? I’ve got more energy and attention to put towards them. I can see the issue more clearly without as much distraction from the buzzing monkey.

When the monkey pipes up again (which it does)? I can feel it out and walk away, again and again and again.

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