How a Chimp hijacked my wedding
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Back in 2016 I was planning my wedding. I thought it would be a fun, magical experience. I was wrong.
Here is an extract from a blog I was writing back then:
I excitedly emailed our chosen wedding venue for availability. The next day I eagerly opened their reply – none of the available dates worked. None.
That’s when a chimp hijacked my wedding.
When I saw the reply from the venue my Chimp brain went into overdrive. I exclaimed it was all too hard, decided we should just do a registry wedding and then started crying. Not my finest moment – and yeah not the last of it’s kind either. That chimp knows how to take over and make me look like an insane person!
Luckily my awesome fiance knows how to handle this, he agreed, “let’s go registry”, and then gave me a big hug. Smart man, there is no reasoning with a chimp.
You might be wondering who this Chimp is that I’m talking about. It’s from Prof Steve Peters‘ book – The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness. Prof Steve has created a simplified model of the brain to help people understand how the two sides of our thinking brain, the Human side and the Chimp side, interact together.
Your Chimp brain is your emotional centre, the most primitive part of your brain driven primarily by a need for survival. If you’ve ever looked back on a situation and hung your head in shame over how you acted, that was your Chimp brain at work.
Your Human brain is the real you, the calm, logical, rational you. It’s the part of your brain that reflects back and feels shame over how it acted. There is also a third part that he calls the Computer brain, this part has encoded automatic rules on how to act taken from both the Chimp and Human. Look both ways before crossing the street – comes from the Human brain, acting like a child when you’re home with your parents – the Chimp brain.
The message that helped me the most was this:
The way the Chimp brain is wired and how it acts is not my fault, it is not the real me AND I’m responsible for managing it. That’s the paradox. Prof Steve likens it to owning a dog. It’s not your fault if your dog destroys your favourite shoes and it is your responsibility to manage that behaviour.
I should also mention that this is not a case of good cop, bad cop. The Chimp brain is not all bad. It’s your Chimp brain that signals if there is danger, that it’s time to eat or seek out social connection. It’s just that your Chimp brain is quite impulsive, is black and white in it’s thinking and makes decisions on relatively little information. Taking eating as an example, it doesn’t know when to stop leaving the human brain to deal with the consequences.
When you spend the time to understand your Chimp brain and find ways to nurture and manage it, that’s when you’re happier, feel more confident and have more success. Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Ronnie O’Sullivan agree, all attributing their success to working with Prof Steve.
In next week’s letter I’ll tell you more about how I nurture and manage my Chimp.
In the meantime I’d love to know your thoughts.
Have you read the Chimp Paradox, what did you think?
Does this idea resonate or sound like a load of bullocks?