“Most of us have two lives: the life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. … Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.” (Steven Pressfield)
I am so familiar with Resistance. It basically drove my whole life. It used to just sit in the driver’s seat, pulling all breaks like a madman, grinning like crazy, and repeating its mantra: nooooooooowaaay, you are NOT going anywhere!
I have many unlived lives within me. The ideas, the dreams, the wishes, the plans I had. Too many of them are still just that, ideas. Resistance had been way too strong. It hijacked my life, and I have been living on autopilot for way too long.
The time for change has come, and this blog is my tool.
This is the story in my head. Live. I am in it, it is not a retrospective memoir and a by-looking-back-I-realize story. This is present tense. A live stream. A lifestream… My journey through resistance, a full-on struggle, a trial & error, a learning path, an experiment, a journal, a how-to guide, an accountability tool, a load off, a laugh at myself. I do not even know yet what it is. It will emerge during the process…
My Chimp lives in my brain, on the back side, that scientists call the limbic brain. He is responsible for my instincts, my tantrums, my hysterical outbursts and basically for all of my sudden emotional reactions. He is the one pulling the emergency brake, driving self-sabotage and resistance. He is the one that is making me do things I do not want to do, and sabotage things I do want to do. He is also the best protector ever. He is alert, never really sleeps, always on a lookout. He sees everything. I usually picture him as he is sitting on my shoulder, jumping from one side to the other while looking out for possible danger.
He is super quick and extremely strong. He can be playful and threatening. He moves and acts suddenly, he is from the jungle, so his priorities are based on survival and instant gratification, and are not at all reasonable or logical. He has his own purpose, agenda and personality. He is not good, nor bad, he is a Chimp.
And we all have one.
Have you met yours yet?
BASED ON PROF. STEVE PETERS’ CHIMP PARADOX
„To change or improve, you must recognise that you are not always functioning in the way you want to, because you are not always the person you want to be, or you don’t always seem to have control over your emotions or what you think or do.” (prof. Steve Peters)
The Chimp analogy comes from a well known English psychiatrist, dr. Steve Peters, who works in elite sport. He invented a mind management method, that he successfully used in high-performance sport. He has several TEDXTalks, and a great book called The Chimp Paradox.
I had the privilege to see dr. prof. Steve Peters’ in person, in 2008, when he gave a talk at UKSport’s annual World Class Coaching Conference in the UK. He talked about how he works with elite athletes, introduced his Chimp analogy, explained how our brain works, how our thoughts and emotions can be managed and blew me away. As if he switched on the light in a dark room, I suddenly understood what is happening in my head. I also realized that I was thinking „backwards” all along. Jeeez… I was thinking the wrong way…all…my…life.
MY BRAINWARE – THE SCIENCE BEHIND
The Chimp is an emotional machine living in our head. It is a part of the brain, that scientists call the limbic brain, or basal ganglia, or amygdala (parts of the limbic brain). It is the part of the brain that is responsible for the emotional reactions. prof Steve Peters’ came up with the Chimp analogy, as it makes it easy to grasp and understand how our brain works.
The professor says, that our brain consists of three parts: the Human, the Chimp and the Computer. (This is, of course, a really oversimplified view, scientifically far from accurate, he uses it for the sake of the analogy, as a working model.)
The frontal (Human) and the limbic (Chimp) part of the brain has totally different agendas, personalities, and ways of functioning. Even though these parts try to work together, they most often get into conflict, and battle with each other. When we struggle to make a decision, or we make the decision but struggle to follow through, these guys are battling inside our brain. Basically, it is like having two separate beings in our head.
The Human is our logical, rational part. The Chimp is the irrational, emotional, territorial one, and the Computer is the machine that automatically runs all the pre-loaded scripts, that had been previously uploaded by either the Human or the Chimp. It is a storage of information for reference.
The Chimp thinks independently from us (the Human), it has its own purpose, agenda and personality. It is extremely powerful, much stronger than our Human part of the brain, the frontal lobe, or the prefrontal cortex, which is – in an extremely simplified way – responsible for our rational thinking.
„This starts to explain many things, such as why you worry or why you say things in the heat of the moment and then regret them, or why you can’t stop eating or why you don’t exercise when you really want to but just can’t get your act together. The list is endless. Wonder no more: it is not you doing these things, it is your Chimp that is hijacking you.” (prof. Steve Peters – The Chimp Paradox)
If you haven’t met your Chimp yet, it is time for you to get in contact and introduce yourself. Give it a name if you want, and try to become aware of its actions during the day. Chimps can be very different, male or female, calm or anxious, aggressive or humble. Get to know your own Chimp, as if you have been hijacked by him before, it is now time to set some boundaries and start to manage the son of a gun…
Prof. Steve Peters explains the chapters:
“Can we understand what’s going on in your head, what sort of machine are we working with?”