The Chattering Monkey
The ‘Chattering Monkey’ sits on your shoulder and chatters non-stop in
your ear. This is the ‘head conversation’ we have while driving the car or
lying in bed at night. The chattering monkey takes a slight negative
remark and engages your mind in a long discussion with amazing
exaggeration. The chattering monkey will always convince you of the
absolute worst possible outcome to the slightest problem. We all do it,
and we all do it a lot.
Take a 30 minute drive on your own and I’ll bet you are often oblivious to
much of the journey, because in that time you are engaged in a
conversation with the chattering monkey.
An example of this is: You leave the house thinking your husband was
quiet this morning. The chattering monkey comes in and the discussion
goes something like this, “Your Husband is quiet all the time lately,
maybe he is seriously ill or perhaps he is having problems at work," or
"Maybe he has lost interest in you," or "He’s having an affair."
The chattering monkey always likes to go back into history and search
out similar events and add them to the argument. You think about last
week, last month and last year. Now you have a list of concerns about
your husband’s quiet mood. In fact, it’s not a quiet mood anymore - it’s
abandonment and indifference. He’s selfish and takes you for granted.
You add up all the good things you do for him and you add up all the
rotten things he does to you. In your mind you are having a full on
argument with your husband.
This example also shows that thoughts create emotions. Emotions create
physical and mental reactions. As far as your body is concerned, you
have just been in a fight with your husband. You are angry, hurt and
afraid, your muscles are tight, your head aches and you feel like crying,
your blood pressure is up and you are exhausted.
When you arrive home your husband is happy to see you and you
realize he was simply ‘quiet’ this morning for no reason at all.
Imagine if the chattering monkey worked on positive thoughts. Imagine if
we would exaggerate good things the way we do with negative things.
Imagine driving along thinking, "I am really loved and everyone I know
respects, admires and supports me".
Think about what a great person you are and go back a week, a month
or a year and gather every great thing that you can remember. How
often would you exaggerate it? Do you ever obsess about how great you
are or how wonderful your life is?
Unfortunately, we do not do this. Consider spending the next week
observing your own chattering monkey. See how easy it is to engage in
head conversations that are extremely exaggerated when they are
negative and watch how rarely we do the same with positive remarks.
Talking with the chattering monkey is probably the most stressful thing
we do because it’s a habit and it’s constant. I would guess that the
number one cause of depression and anxiety is the chattering monkey.
This is because he takes small problems and allows the mind to
exaggerate them into the worst possible scenario.
You will rarely have situations in your real life that come anywhere close
to the imagined horrors your thoughts can create and maintain.
If we could eliminate imagined crises, dealing with real problems would be
a breeze. I would suggest that as much as 90% of our stress comes from
an imagined source. Can you imagine how healthy, happy, and
productive you could be if you just killed the chattering monkey.
The chattering monkey has a cousin, equally diabolical, and is known as
The media will convince you that you’re not good enough, feeding you a
constant diet of self-doubt, comparisons and fears.
The average person in today’s world starts the day with a newspaper or
radio news broadcast. Their mind has absorbed a murder, a political
dispute, a terrorist attack, a new disease, a few robberies and a car
chase before they leave for work.
You drive to work with the radio is on and you listen to these again.
You arrive at work and your colleagues mention the news they heard
(like you didn’t!) and engage you in a conversation about the murder,
the terrorist attack, the new disease and everything else.
Driving home, you listen to the radio and of course the news is back on
again. You’re now feeling like there are lots of murders and diseases are
becoming plagues. You wonder if that cough is a new virus. You lock the
car doors and worry about car-jacking.
You eat dinner in front of the television while watching the news, you eat
dessert watching a current affairs program and then watch a criminal
investigation show. How do you feel?
Not to mention the ads: Is your deodorant letting you down? Is your
kitchen alive with germs? Do you have the right insurance? Are you
looking good? Are your kids safe?
Many of these subliminal messages are designed to encourage you to
buy things. They are geared to instil fear and insecurity in you. Are you
buying this? Think about the amount of negative input you are
absorbing. Negative thinking creates negative feelings which create
negative responses and negative behaviour.
Re-living the past
There is no person or event that will ever be as ruthless to you as: Your
Own Thoughts. You may have been devastated by events in your life,
but you are the only one who chooses to re-live them again and again.
No matter how terrible it was to have your heart broken ten years ago, it
is not nearly as terrible as the fact that you have re-lived it and kept it in
your mind ever since.
You may have been bullied, abused, humiliated or assaulted. Yes, these
are terrible things, but compared to how often we re-live these
experiences and how exaggerated they have become within us, you can
only ask, who is the real enemy or who is causing the pain now?
Implode or Explode
Have you ever seen a building implode? A number of explosives are
strategically placed so that the building collapses into itself. Exploding
blows thing apart, whilst imploding collapses into itself. When you
implode a building it usually does not affect the surrounding buildings,
but it itself is totally annihilated.
Women tend to implode and men to explode. Stress has many faces; it
may be fear, guilt, insecurity, worry, anger, irritation, impatience, self-
doubt or any one of the negative emotions. Certainly big stresses can be
involved, but it's more the build up of consistent stresses that I'm
When you implode, you are not challenging the aggravation because it
seems too trivial or you just don't feel assertive enough to speak out. So,
you keep silent, it builds into anger and then you implode.
Unlike obvious stress, imploding stress is constant stress sucked down
and swallowed. Everyday things, such as bad service in a shop, waiting
too long on hold, disrespectful comments, and lack of appreciation can
be sources of imploding stress.
Women have been conditioned from childhood to be, ‘Nice and Sweet’.
By the time we are adults, it is common to react by swallowing anger and
Men, on the other hand, are conditioned to avoid showing most
emotions. They learn very early that showing their feelings of insecurity
or fear is considered a weakness.
However, for some very strange, irrational reason, men are encouraged
to turn most ‘weak emotions’ into anger. Anger is more masculine and
acceptable. It’s probably more acceptable for a man to punch a hole in
the wall than it would be to sit and cry. When men feel guilty, insecure,
worried, afraid, or impatient they seem to have an automatic mechanism
which turns these emotions into anger.
If women understood this about men, there would be a lot less conflict in
relationships. If you knew your husband's angry outburst was caused by
fear or insecurity, wouldn't you be a little more understanding and
supportive? Unfortunately, when a man expresses him self through
anger, most women panic and feel threatened.
“What’s eating you?”
Although imploding is most common in women, don't think that men don't
do it. Of course they do!
When you implode you take your anger into the centre of your body.
This is often the cause of women’s eating disorders. Over-eating gives a
sense of releasing tension in the stomach area. Not eating gives a sense
of protecting this area.
When anger explodes it is very unattractive and frightening for others,
but at least it makes the angry person feel better in the short term.
Exploding anger releases excess stress whereas imploding keeps it
Imploding is like pouring drain cleaner into your stomach. It eats away at
Imploding is usually related to not speaking up for yourself. It's about self-
disrespect or taking on responsibility for something that is not your
responsibility. Mostly, it is about swallowing anger rather than expressing
or releasing it.
I'm not suggesting that you go to war with every issue. However, you
should recognize when someone is treating you unfairly or disrespectfully
and speak up for yourself, rather than carrying it in your mind and
imploding. If you feel uncomfortable speaking out, then at least speak to
yourself and affirm, “This is not about me”.
If you are treated unfairly or disrespectfully you need to leave it at the
original source. State clearly and without aggression what you think. Do
not turn it on yourself and swallow it.
If someone is rude, critical, lazy or inconsiderate of you, it is their stuff
not yours. You don't have to know their motivation and you don't need to
fix their problems. You do need to be responsible for what you take on
Funnily enough, if you witnessed your child being bullied or treated
unkindly you would jump in like a mad dog and fight to the end. You
would certainly find your voice if your best friend were being treated
rudely. You are the first person to tell others, "Well, that's not your fault,
why are you feeling guilty," or "That's not fair, did you complain to the
person in charge?" Well, why on earth don’t you treat your self with the
Ask yourself this, if the girl at the checkout counter hates her job and
converts that hatred into rudeness, how is that your fault? Why would
you be keeping it in your head after you leave the store? Why did you
not take it in your hand, look at it, decide it's not yours and hand it back?
If you seriously want to minimize stress in your life you must become
aware of what stress is. Catch it at the onset, name it, and leave it at its
original source. If you practice the art of speaking calmly and kindly in
response to inappropriate behaviour you'll be on your way to self-
Too many people accept bad service, disrespect, criticism, blame,
rudeness, ignorance, unkindness and inconsideration. Every time you
keep silent, you are allowing bad behaviour to be acceptable.
Even if you don't speak up, then at least make a commitment to yourself,
that you will not promote, own, or carry other people's stuff. You could be
making a huge contribution to yourself and the world by fulfilling your
obligation to challenge and refute bad behaviour.
Copyright Sonya Green
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