3 ways I nurture my Chimp
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I was in a cuddle with my husband the other day and he commented on how quickly I seem to throw off self-doubt. I asked him to tell me more about what he was noticing and he reminded me of the dark years of 2016-2018 and how a setback would send me in a downward spiral for weeks.
I’ve been thinking about that and how it relates to my Chimp. (Check out this letter if you’re not sure what I am talking about).
Your Chimp brain is wired for survival and it is driven by needs such as territory, sex, ego, inquisitiveness, power, food, dominance, troop, security and parental.
The environment I was in was characterised by an impending restructure, my territory (job) was under treat, my troop was diminishing as people moved on and my ego was sore because I’d lost the high profile stuff I used to do.
I was in full fight (snappy and irritable), flight (working from home) and freeze (couldn’t make decisions) mode.
I spent a lot of time blaming myself for not being resilient enough and unable to cope with stress. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that the environment was just as much to blame as me.
In his book The Chimp Paradox, Prof Steve Peters talks about the need to nurture your Chimp so that you work with it to manage your emotional reactions better. If you meet the needs of your Chimp it is less likely to kick off. So if your territory needs are not being met, you need to meet them or you won’t be able to manage your Chimp.
Three things I do to nurture my Chimp are:
When I left my job I spent a lot of time being kind to myself. My drive for security had been threatened and I needed time to hibernate and build my strength back. So I let myself, actually I had to convince myself, to just sit on the couch and watch TV. Eventually I got bored and Think with Jude was born – it helps to meet my territory, ego, security and inquisitiveness needs.
I say thank you every time I get a compliment, I save positive messages in a folder I call ‘feel good’ and I celebrate all wins. Your Chimp needs praise and recognition from people it trusts and respects so I make sure I bask in the pleasure as much as possible.
I have a great group of people that I stay in regular contact with to make sure my troop needs are met.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories. When has your Chimp hijacked you? How do you nurture your Chimp?