03 Mar Monkey Mind: Your Faithful Friend
I know that the title of this newsletter could be confusing. Read on, and I’ll explain what I mean when I say that Monkey Mind, your “Negative Self-Talk,” is here to help you. That it’s something your brain is bringing forward from the past to save you from those wild beasts lurking outside of your cave.
Science has discovered that our brain hasn’t changed much in about 100,000 years. This discovery was a real eye-opener for me! It could help explain why our brain becomes so anxious when confronted with the slightest changes as we begin to take action from visionary to physical reality.
Before we go further, remember this: you are not your brain. You have a brain. You have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and a brain.
You might ask: “If I’m not my brain, who or what am I? The answer to that question could take us a lifetime to answer. Just for now, consider this: you are a being that can change or shape your brain! Your brain is an organ that you can train to focus on the experiences that will bring you harmony, meaning, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
Picture what it was like to live 100,000, even 25,000 years ago. We didn’t have fangs or fur. We couldn’t run very fast. However, we did have a brain that could figure out everything that could go wrong. There could be a tiger outside of the cave. There might be a snake that could bite us if we weren’t careful where we stepped. There were so many real-time, real-life things to worry about.
Fast forward 25,000 years. Our brain has been built to withstand the forces in existence back then. It is still looking for that tiger or snake, or whatever could stop us in our tracks, so that we may stay safe as we leave our cave. We experience this as Negative Self-Talk, the Negativity Bias, or, as we have come to call it, Monkey Mind.
Monkey Mind is a Buddhist term that stands for that aspect of the mind that is always chattering at us as it swings from doubt to worry and back to doubt again. There are many Monkey Mind symptoms: things we say to ourselves over and over again as we stop at the edge of our particular cave. We have a list of them that covers most of the things our brain might say to us in an attempt to either stop us or slow us down.
Monkey Mind accompanies us every step of our hero’s journey. It never goes away, but it needn’t stop us.
What can we do?
First, let me tell you what not to do. Don’t sit down by the side of your hero’s path, waiting for it to go away. It won’t. The Buddhists also have a saying that I’m taking the liberty of modifying here:
“If we continue to do what we’ve always done we’re liable to end up with what we’ve always gotten.”
And what are we liable to get? Regret. An abiding sadness that we didn’t do what’s in our hearts to do.
Second, don’t wait until you feel comfortable or safe. Doing something new will always bring some discomfort. A loss of a sense of security. Another quote, one by Helen Keller, is most appropriate here:
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger in the long run is no safer than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.”
This is what we can do:
We can simply put it in a beautiful woven basket and carry it with us as we keep moving toward our goals, dreams, and contribution. We can send some compassion to our Monkey Mind because this brain has only been trying to keep us safe. Which, as we now know, flies in the face of a life worth living.
Enlightenment may be nothing more than a simple shift of our attention from our worries, doubts, and fears to what we are here to contribute.
We have our choice in life.
We can have
- our drama or our dreams,
- our complaints or our contributions,
- our reasons or our results,
- our drive to be secure, or our commitment to making a difference.
Where are you going to focus your brain?
Wishing you all my best,