Get to know and learn how to manage your Inner Chimp.
Do you sometimes feel that you are not quite in charge of your responses? That you sometimes act on impulse and then deeply regret it afterwards? At such times a simple apology may put things right and at others you are forced to live with the shame and guilt for a long time afterwards, until it fades in memory.
I, as do we all, tend to be most impulsive when stressed or feeling under treat. So someone can ask a perfectly innocent question and I snap and immediately, go on the defensive; my Inner Chimp responds rather than my Inner Human! Here is a brief, but typical, example:
Husband/Partner: What's for dinner tonight?
Wife/Partner: What do you mean, what's for dinner? Am I the only person around here that has the brains to make decisions. Why don't you go and have a look at what's in the fridge!
Resulting scenario 1: Husband and wife have a blazing row (Chimp to Chimp)
Resulting scenario 2: He walks away, wounded, to sulk! (Chimp to Chimp)
Resulting scenario 3: Husband remains calm, soothes his stressed partner by saying - 'Ok, I can see you have had a rough day, I'll take a look and then we can both decide.' (Human to Chimp)
The wife's Inner Human probably feels immediately ashamed and guilty if scenario 3 results. However, she may remain under the thrall of her Inner Chimp for longer if scenarios 1 or 2 results. She will feel morally justified and angry if a row ignites, confirming, in her eyes, that her husband just does not understand! Or in scenario two, that her husband is just a spoilt child! Her view may only change once she has calmed down and her Inner Human has time to reflect on what happened.
If scenarios 1 and 2 become ingrained patterns we may decide that this is unhealthy. I am sure you can think of your own examples of such patterns.
However, using the model of the mind developed and popularised by Professor Steve Peters in his book 'The Chimp Paradox' we can understand the source of such impulsive and often destructive behaviours and also see how Mindfulness can become a means to breaking negative cycles of stimulus and response.
Visit my website blog page to view a visual presentation introducing you to your inner Chimp!
Over the next few weeks I will be adding layers to this model. It simplifies very complex scientific knowledge about the human brain and mind but even this simplified model takes some time to explain.
My PREZI below gives further illumination to this topic.
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