Ever wondered why we fail to even start something? Even when we know that it will be good for us? Taking up running or starting a new business for instance.
What about when you hit an obstacle to your regime; be it fitness, or perhaps something else, such as studying for an exam, or reaching for a goal in your business or work?
Do you find yourself getting despondent or annoyed quickly when you don’t see the results you want? Maybe you step on the scales and don’t see the loss you desired?
Do you then immediately say “I’m not doing this anymore! It’s not working!”. Do you self-talk yourself into not going out for that run in the morning? Or convince yourself not to keep on with that business project or task in favour of ‘needing a rest’?
Our Chimp Mind
It could be that your Chimp Mind is stepping in and taking control. Your Chimp is, loosely-speaking, the emotional side of you. The important thing to remember about the Chimp is that it reacts a lot faster than your Computer Brain (see below).
The Chimp Mind specialises in Anger, Annoyance, Impatience, Anxiety, Sadness, Lust, Elation, Worry, Envy, Joy, Amusement, Pride, Complexity, Procrastination, and so many others, not all have negative connotations I should point out!
Chimp thinking can make us regret thoughts and actions later on with questions we ask ourselves like “Why did I think I couldn’t do that thing?”, and “I really wish I hadn’t done that”.
This might come as a surprise but the Chimp part of us is actually not all a bad thing. It’s part of what makes us human! But if you want to achieve something such as running a 5k or even marathon, you need to set the Chimp thinking part of your brain aside a little.
Our Computer Brain
One trick to maintaining your DISCIPLINE and DETERMINATION to succeed is to force your Computer Brain to engage and take over from your Chimp Mind when it is pertinent to do so. Such as aiming for a goal.
Your Computer Brain is more analytical, more logical and pragmatic. DECISIONS are less likely to be blurred by incorrect (emotional) thinking.
The Computer Brain specialises in Rational Thinking, Planning, Analysis, Pragmatism, Logic, Matter-of-factness, Simplicity, and so on.
It is important to note that decisions the Computer Brain makes can be influenced by our emotional highs and lows “when we specifically allow it“. The Computer Brain can look at what we enjoy or dislike and then make decisions based on its findings, purely in a pragmatic way.
The Computer Brain needs to be actively engaged. It needs to be ‘switched on’ just like any computer does. However, it is a lot slower to respond to stimuli than our Chimp Mind. Keep this in mind.
How to make use of both the Chimp Mind and the Computer Brain
When we are looking to achieve something in our lives, we often use our Computer Brain to plan out what it is we want. be it a business goal, an educational achievement or a life goal such as losing weight or making a long-desired trip.
We might spend hours researching what needs to be in place so that we can reach that goal. “How much money do I need to take that trip around the world? What do I have to do at work to free up the time? Who is going to look after the dog while I’m away?”.
This is the Computer Brain working to help you reach your DESIRES.
So why don’t we achieve these desires sometimes? Why do we give up that new fitness regime we planned? Why did we give up on that diet?
Probably because we did not see results we expected, or we thought it was too much like hard work! That’s the Chimp talking! Remember, the Chimp is like lightning when it comes to piping in with his or her thoughts! Your Computer Brain doesn’t stand much of a chance here!
Your Chimp Mind is also an interfering so-and-so. Even while you are in the midst of success, the Chimp can pipe in with nagging doubts and thoughts.
Let’s make use of the Chimp but make decisions with the Computer Brain.
The Chimp part of us is what gives us vitality, energy, charisma, LIFE. Don’t push the monkey aside just because he seems negative much of the time. Allow him or her to have its way but in the long run, pass ultimate control of your big DECISIONS to the Computer Brain.
How mini goals can help
Mini goals can help rid you of the Chimp speaking. That little demon who sits on your shoulder whispering negative messages in you ear. Because the Chimp is so fast, it’s difficult to ignore!
So, make mini goals to help overcome the negative, failure thoughts that plague you.
Let’s say you have a goal to lose 30lbs in weight. You might start exercising and go on a diet. All good so far, but then the Chimp Mind pipes up and says “it isn’t working“, or “it’s too much effort“, “it costs too much” and so on.
You keep trying for a while but that Chimp! He keeps nagging and nagging and eventually you give up. You only lost 4lbs so obviously your goal wasn’t achievable in the first place right?
Wrong! Try breaking up your ‘big’ goals into smaller relevant, achievable ones.
By that I do not mean you break down your 30lb weight loss goal into weekly weight loss goals, because they can go wrong too! What I mean by a mini goal would be something like “Walk to the local shop three times a week, don’t drive”, or “Relax in a hot bath once a week to get a good nights sleep”, or “I will be sure to walk 5,000 steps today“. There will help with mindset and weight loss because they are achievable but do not have direct negative connotations to your big goal (losing 30lbs). You get the idea?
Not only will achieving these mini goals make you smile, but the very fact that you have achieved them makes you a success, not a failure like the Chimp keeps saying. Your mind will say, I’m working towards my big goal successfully.
Now, whether you are losing the weight as quickly as you originally anticipated takes less precedence in your thinking.
By the way, you might want to check out S.M.A.R.T for goal setting.
The Long Run
It’s all about the long run, or long game. Your Computer Brain flourishes when you take a future-thinking approach. Meanwhile, your Chimp is looking for things to do, twiddling his thumbs. Insofar as success is concerned, you are putting him or her out of a job!