Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping
around screeching and chattering and carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds,
Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention.
From a therapeutic point of view, the typical monkeys that we all carry are:
And they’re all acting crazed and demanding;
like unreasonable childrenhaving temper tantrums.
While most (if not all) of these monkeys can be broken down to the base level of fear — there are predictable times and events where these monkeys try to take charge of your mind.
Until you recognize the monkeys in your mind, you will always be challenged by their neediness to be in charge. Pay attention to your thoughts — which ones are kind and gentle and positive? Those will not be your monkeys. Which ones are judgmental, fear driven and negative toward you or another? THOSE are your monkeys.
One very effective way to calm your monkeys (yes dear, sorry, but they ARE your monkeys), is to have a healthy adult, non judgmental conversation with them.
Revenge Monkey says: “It’s not fair, I’m going to get even with him for doing that”.
Here’s one example of how you can talk to this monkey with your healthy adult mind:
MM: “What he’s done is wrong, and I’m not going to let him get away with it”
HAM: Yep, I agree, it’s wrong, and I can see why you want to get back at him, but let me ask you, is he worth your time and energy?
MM: Well no, he’s a piece of shit, but he needs to know that he can’t do that crap. I want to hurt him as much as he’s hurt me.
HAM: It seems like he enjoys hurting you. This is probably because he is a hateful person.
MM: Yeah, he’s a hateful person, all right.
HAM: So every time you get hurt by his behavior, you are actually rewarding him, don’t you think? And, at the same time, allowing yourself to be hurt?
MM: Yeah, but if I can hurt him badly enough he will stop doing that.
HAM: Based on his behaviors in the past, do you really think he will be hurt? Or even if he is, that he will change his ways?
MM: Probably not, but I will feel better knowing that I’ve told him how wrong he is.
HAM: And you’ve never done that before?”
MM: I tell him all the time what a piece of shit he is.
HAM: And that doesn’t change his behavior toward you? And I ask again, do you have the power to hurt him?
MM: No, he thinks he is in the right.
HAM: Hmmm, Is it possible, since he’s a hateful person, that he enjoys the fact that he can hurt you?
MM: Oh, yeah, I let him know every chance I get how awful he is being.
HAM: But isn’t that what he wants? For you to acknowledge how effective his behavior toward hurting you is?
MM: Yeah, I can see that…..
This is just a possible scenario. You can certainly put your own circumstances and words into this conversation model, but you see how you have stayed in your calm Healthy Adult Mind and defused your Monkey Mind?
This is a powerful tool to keep your monkeys calm and quiet - a very powerful tool. You haven’t judged them, you haven’t told them what to do - you’ve acknowledge their point of view, but you’ve also helped them see a new perspective. And eventually, when Revenge Monkey starts yelling for your attention, you will be able to say
“We’ve already talked about this, you need to just calm down and let me handle it as a healthy adult".
Keep a thought journal and each night, pick one Monkey-Minded thought and have a healthy adult conversation with it. A few things will begin to happen as you practice this. You will more readily recognize negative, monkey minded thoughts that don't serve you, and when they arise, you already have a healthy response practiced ahead of time. :-)