I’ve just finished listening to The Chimp Paradox – “The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness” by Professor Steve Peters, read by the author himself, and it’s fascinating! I’d heard people talk about this book over the past few years, but it had never seemed to grab my attention until recently.
I’m going to get the book as well so I can refer back to things more easily, as there’s a lot of content here to think about, learn and use.
I loved the way that Professor Peters has made it simple to think about our brains and how they work. He calls the Limbrick brain The Chimp, our Frontal lobe The Human, and Poriatel brain The computer . His model doesn’t require us to understand the other areas of our brains, although he does explain that our brains are complicated and interconnected. He talks about these three characters all working together, although they struggle to communicate with each other, and that The Chimp is stronger than The Human, and is also the first to respond to anything that happens. This explains so much!
My understanding is that The Chimp is our emotional being, The Human is our logical being, and The Computer stores information and does things automatically. He introduces gremlins and goblins, and shows us how they work and also how to manage them better, and even get rid of the gremlins. He talks about the Heart of Stone which is at our very core where our beliefs and values sit, and which underpin everything we do.
He uses examples from everyday situations, and shows how a slight difference in approach will make the Human take over from the Chimp. There are exercises to test out, but I’ve become so much more aware of which part of my brain is ‘in charge’ since I’ve been learning from this, that I feel more in control of my mind.
One analogy he gives of the Chimp is that of a dog owner. We take ownership of our dog and are in charge of it. We can’t control the dog and it’s behaviour, but we are in charge of it and need to tell it off, feed it and love it, and listen to it. Likewise, we can’t control our Chimp, but we can are responsible for it, and need to learn how to manage it. We need to “Exercise the Chimp” by letting it rant and screech, but not by letting that be our response to something if that’s not what the Human wants. By talking to the Chimp with rationale and facts about a situation, we can calm the Chimp down, and “Box the Chimp”, but by ignoring the Chimp, it only makes matters worse. We also need to “Feed the Chimp” by loving it, listening to it, and giving it what it needs. The Chimp does need food, but only as much as our body needs, and not to be over-full. It’s the Chimp that tells us to eat cake, and if the Human wants to do that that’s fine, they are aligned. However, if the Human wants to lose weight, they need to manage the Chimp and tell them that they are over-weight and eating cake isn’t good for either of them in the long run.
The book is written in sections, so if you’re looking for help on a particular aspect, or you need some tips to help Manage your Chimp, then you can dive straight in there for advice, through the stories he uses. The audio version I found great for my long car journey, but I need that reference point to go back to and explore some more.
The Chimp Paradox won’t solve everyone’s issues with their Chimp, but it will help you identify some areas you can alter yourself, and maybe some you need professional help with.
I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to change something in their life, so you understand what you need to do to control your Chimp and let the Human take charge.
Have you read it? What’s your view? Has it helped you Manage your Chimp?