Feeling like a Chump? Letting your inner chimp get the better of you?

Well here’s how not to go so nuts among all that motion and commotion in today’s world of Great Acceleration and improve your resilience, mental toughness and all-round positivity to boot!

All 3 of the above traits when worked on and honed can markedly impact and contribute to enhancing performance and increasing productivity in the workplace, as well as enabling you to have a richer and more fulfilled life outside of work.

So, what is this Inner Chimp and what can you do about it?

In his book from a wee while ago entitled ‘The Chimp Paradox’, Steve Peters described & gave form to the concept of the Inner Chimp as a seemingly irrational and impulsive being that inhabits our minds and is responsible for nagging self-doubt & the fear or trepidation that we can all feel at certain times and taken together can have a negative impact on all areas of our lives.

Dr Peters argued that there were 3 elements to the psychological mind and he called these the Chimp, the Human & the Computer.

This may well remind you of Sigmund Freud’s 3 states of Id, Ego & Super Ego and you wouldn’t be far wrong in thinking that!

The Chimp (or Limbic Brain) is that area of the mind which goes back to a very primitive and essential part of human development.

Its primary motivation is survival and feelings, impressions, emotional thinking and gut instincts drive it.

The Chimp in us will quickly jump to an opinion and thinks quite literally in pure black and white terms. No questions asked!

Dr Peters suggested in his book that it can easily become paranoid and if unchecked its behaviour is quite irrational, emotive and ultimately can lead to catastrophic consequences.

On the other hand

The Human (or Front Brain) is the rational, analytical, evidence-based third.

It thinks in shades of grey (probably, but not exclusively ‘50’) & operates in a state of balance, weighing its judgments.

It is driven by self-fulfillment and longer-term purpose.

The Computer (or Parietal Brain) runs alongside the Chimp & the Human parts and Peters likened that to a ‘Hard Drive’ that is empty at birth, but through lived experience becomes a repository of all that we’ve known or done and both the Chimp and the Human parts of the Brain look to it for guidance and a steer when reacting to stuff.

Garbage In Garbage Out

Of course like a real computer you can get GI/GO — Garbage In/Garbage Out — as the Computer will only be as good as the information it has been programmed with.

Whilst the Paradox part comes from a kind of ‘Dualism’ which Plato wrote about 2000 years ago in ‘The Symposium’ & the inherent tension in all of this is that as well as being at times your worst enemy, the Chimp can also be your very best friend — But, as the song goes, “With friends like these who needs enemies!”

Dr Peters stressed however that you cannot bypass the Chimp or control it with willpower and suggested instead that you should acknowledge it and have a ‘Management Plan’ to, ‘Box the Chimp’!

Freud Versus Peters?

And as to any similarities with Freud’s 3 states, both Peters & Freud are essentially describing Systems rather than parts of the Brain, &, neither system is in any way physical.

The Id though is rather like the Chimp: The Ego is the modified and reasoning Human: And the Super Ego is your (Super) Computer incorporating the values, morals and behaviours that are learnt from one’s upbringing and all your lived experiences.

A Management Plan

So, what can you do about it and what might a ‘Management Plan’ look like that helps you to effectively ‘Box the Chimp’ and enhance & augment your Resilience, Mental Toughness & Positivity?

Well I would suggest that you might wish to consider the following:

  • Work On Your Self-Discipline: Self-Discipline is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it will get, whilst the less you exercise it the weaker it will become — So try to level the playing field between your ‘Present Self’ & your ‘Future Self’ with what Daniel Goleman calls a ‘Commitment Device’ — And incentivise your actions and reward yourself to shape and drive positive behaviour;
  • Make Banishing Negativity Your Primary Goal: Like the song says, “Accentuate the positives & eliminate the negatives” — Focus on being Buoyant & Resilient — Be Authentic and open to challenge: Actively seek out growth & development opportunities — Widen your social circle and professional sphere of Influence — & look for the Purpose and Passion in everything you do;
  • Develop Your Compassion & Social Conscience: You are not on your own — You have a relationship not only with yourself, but your family, friends & the wider world: You are connected and this connectivity can be as light-touch or as full-on as you want it to be — Just don’t be passive: Develop your Attunement: Nurture all your relationships, be socially aware & demonstrate compassion in all areas of your life;
  • Learn To Manage Stress: Stress is OK! Work on becoming Anti-Fragile which Nassim Nicholas Taleb defines as someone, or something that doesn’t just endure shocks and stresses, but can actually benefit from them and actively seeks these experiences out: Be Present in your own life & ask yourself each day the right questions — Start from where you are at and what you have got, not from where you want to be & what you want to get: then quite simply — AMP i.e. Accept, Move On & Plan for your future;
  • Improve Your Confidence: Become a continuous learner & play to your strengths — Set yourself challenging goals — Don’t be afraid to Practice, Practice, Practice & as you develop new skills and strengthen existing ones your self-confidence really will increase; & finally
  • Listen Actively & Communicate Robustly: Be Astute & Sincere in how you interact and network — Cut through the incessant chatter, motion and commotion and listen for what Ronald Heifetz & Marty Linsky describe in their book, ‘Leadership On The Line’ as “The song beneath the words” i.e. practice trying to hear and understand what is really being said and what is really being felt: And communicate passionately and unambiguously, without fear or favour!

Apart from being on a mission to spread the #mindfulbutter around the world, I am all about making the complex less complex, the tough stuff not so tough and putting the unreachable within reach of everyone. I am author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’available on Amazon and www.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. I am also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. I can be contacted at [email protected] and you can follow the continuing journey Uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd

Originally published at medium.com