Island Blog – Me and the Monkey

There is something I am working on as I consider the human dynamic – the misbelief that our thoughts are in control. It is nonsense. Let’s say that one day I suddenly feel awful. I acknowledge that I feel awful and that’s fine so far because the awful carries a message and a question. However, it is very easy to stop at the message bit and to construct a belief below and around it, giving it space and power. If we don’t ask the question we are at the mercy of this awful. We might tell a friend thus reinforcing the construct, giving it an upper floor so it is harder to see the sun, and although it is okay to tell a friend it is not okay to build on the feeling. A good friend will listen, hug and assist in the deconstruction. The fixing bit is entirely up and down to you and to me. So what is the question? Well the one I ask, after recognising the awful is ‘What just happened to make me feel this way? Am I hungry, tired, bored, lonely? If one of these hits the spot then action is required. Eat something, take a nap, find something to do, call a friend, go for a walk, make soup, anything to apply salve to the perceived wound. What not to do is to build another level nor to project outside of self in a frantic attempt to not take responsibility. There are probably too many nots in that last sentence.

Our brains are just computers, completely devoid of emotion. First comes the thought, ‘I made a right cock-up of that thing’. Then follows the feeling, compounding and validating the thought. Third comes the action and that can be finger pointing at circumstance, weather, self etc etc or it can be approached mindfully in ways that don’t deny the feeling, rather saying hallo to it and asking ‘why are you here really and are you helpful or relevant to me right now; are you moving me on or holding me back; are you real at all or did I just stub my toe, feel the pain and sob out ancient grief?’ Oftentimes our thoughts leading to feelings are not helpful in the Now, unless, that is, we notice each one, particularly those that bring us down, say hallo and ask the question or questions.

It can be so easy to let the brain take control at times, but once we remember that the only person who controls my brain is me, I take back my power. It does mean inner work, I get that, and so many folk just aren’t prepared to innerly work, living out reactive lives whilst feeling generally miserable. I don’t want that. Well nobody wants that but it takes conscious thought and a lot of noticing to keep the brain under control. When something kicks the legs out from under me I can forget this, momentarily, but not for long because I am doing the inner work. I need to. Falling apart, not that I ever will, is not an option, but it’s more than that for me. I want a fulfilling and dynamic life at the mercy of nobody, of nothing. I have heard people talk of a difficult work mate or boss and how this person or that is responsible for their unhappiness. Although it does make me sad to hear of anyone being consistently unhappy, I know their state of mind has nothing to do with the difficulties around certain people. The real truth is that this person, through low self-esteem very probably formed in childhood, does actually have complete control if they but knew it, not over the difficult other but over the way they respond to that other. A bully won’t bully if he or she meets inner strength. A bully sees weakness and plays on it, and inner strength is silent and needs no words in order to be clearly heard. It’s not about fighting back which never works and all about not reacting. Easily said, I know, but it works every time.

Inside my head there are two voices, mine and the monkey’s. The monkey is always alert and ready for mischief. I must control the monkey, not by ignoring him but by treating him with respect and with a firm upper hand. Let’s say I think something. Then because of that think, one I believe to be the truth, I feel upset. Then with an ‘Aha!’ I recognise the monkey, stop everything, turn to him and we have a little chat. The monkey departs until the next opportunity for mind mischief arises and on some days I am quite worn out with monkey deflecting. This is inner work. I don’t know about you but my mind is never inactive, even when I sleep. The past rises up to bite my bum, the future looks scary and the present is raining and cold at times, at others a bright sunshine songster. It laughs me now that I understand that whoever we are right now in our lives is whoever we are and that whoever is a damn fine specimen of humanity.

Control your thoughts, control your life. T’is undeniably the truth. What a glorious chance for freedom and I want to be free. Don’t you?

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