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The Monkey In Your Head

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Tips for Taming The Chimp Within

“Shut up, she tells her monkey mind. Please shut up, you picker of nits, presser of bruises, counter of losses, fearer of failures, collector of grievances future and past.” - Leni Zumas

Ever felt overwhelmed by your own thoughts? Like your mind is a noisy place full of incessant chatter. One thought leads to another and another… You try to focus on the present moment, but your attention wanders far away. In this day and age, the constant influx of information tends to intensify the MONKEY MIND. So, with ads, news, and social media posts competing for your attention, it’s difficult to settle your mind on a single thing for more than a few minutes. This generally leads to a lack of productivity, difficulty making decisions, and an inability to find peace.

What is the “Monkey Mind”?

Let’s start with the basics. You already have a general idea of it, but let’s get into details. Thousands of years ago, the Buddha discussed this mental state, saying:

“Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and

lets it go only to seize another, so too, that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night.”

In other words, your attention is like a monkey. Every day, your mind produces thousands of different thoughts. So your attention struggles to remain in one place. Instead, it swings from branch to branch (thought to thought). For instance, you may be working on a task at work, trying to channel all your attention into it. But, suddenly, your mind wanders somewhere else… You think about your partner’s birthday next week; what should you get them? You have an important presentation tomorrow, will it go badly? Will the electricity bill be expensive? What else is there to pay?

So, as you see, the “monkey mind” is an inner state of restlessness, agitation, and confusion. It’s the part of your brain that struggles to pay conscious attention. Ultimately, this hinders your productivity and creativity. What’s more, the monkey mind is connected to your inner critic. That swinging monkey of yours loves to grab onto bad branches or pessimistic thoughts.

In a professional setting, a monkey mind can be detrimental to productivity, decision making, and overall success. It can prevent individuals from being fully present in the task at hand and can lead to procrastination and the inability to meet deadlines. It can also hinder effective communication and collaboration with colleagues.

Taming Your Chimp - 7 Strategies

But when our monkey mind starts to become more common than not, it’s important to nudge our neurons into a more positive and productive state by shifting our senses and calming down. Taking care of your monkey mind will not only help to reduce anxiety and the fatigue that often turns to depression as a result of over-activity, but it will also optimize your health and performance each day.

Take time to prime your brain to be in its peak state, and be the boss of your brain by aligning your mind regularly with the energy you want to bring to the time that you have overcome a monkey mind and cultivate a more productive and focused professional mindset, it is important to employ various techniques and strategies. This might include:

1. Mindfulness techniques: Practicing mindfulness through techniques such as meditation can help calm the mind and increase self-awareness. By observing the thoughts without judgment, individuals can train themselves to let go of distracting thoughts and engage in the present moment.

2. Prioritization and organization: Creating a clear plan or schedule for the day can help individuals stay focused and on track. Prioritizing tasks and breaking them into smaller, manageable steps can reduce overwhelm and prevent the mind from jumping from one task to another.

3. Single-tasking: Instead of trying to multitask, it is more effective to focus on one task at a time. This allows for better concentration and helps complete tasks more efficiently. Multitasking often leads to errors and decreased overall productivity.

4. Time management: Setting specific timeframes for tasks and allocating dedicated time for focused work can help keep distractions at bay. Using time management techniques such as Pomodoro Technique (working in focused intervals with short breaks) can enhance productivity.

5. Self-care: Taking care of one's physical and mental well-being is crucial in maintaining focus and productivity. Engaging in regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating a balanced diet can contribute to a more clear and calm mind.

6. Mirth : Finding something funny is a quick way to shift a busy brain into a more relaxed state. Mirth is the emotional experience of humor; the feeling you get when you notice that something is funny. It could be curious, peculiar, or ironic. And it doesn’t have to make you laugh out loud. Humor research has shown that finding something funny decreases stress hormones, improves immune function, strengthens memory, and builds resilience.

7). Music:  It seems that music has a way of bypassing the human part of the brain to nudge the monkey mind in a new and improved direction. You can use music to trigger excitement and passion to harness energy towards performance goals, or you can use music to quiet, calm, and soothe the nervous system by providing a slower, softer, more rhythmic tone to balance brainwaves.

In conclusion, a monkey mind can hinder professional success, but with the right techniques and strategies, it can be overcome. Cultivating mindfulness, prioritization, single-tasking, time management, and self-care are essential in developing a more focused and productive professional mindset.


Stephanie Burchell PhD LMFT PCC is a licensed therapist and certified coach. With over 15+ years of experience, Stephanie offers expert guidance and support to couples, individuals, and families. Both video and in-office appointments are available. For further information or to schedule an appointment please click below.

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