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Robin Silverman

Get the Monkeys Off Your Back!
by Robin L. Silverman


Are you walking around with a monkey on your back? Most of us are. "Monkeys" are worries, regrets, anger and guilt that never keep quiet and refuse to sit still. They are born from the more than 50,000 thoughts each of us think each day, largely about things we cannot control, do not wish to see happen, wonít have time to experience or canít let go. When it comes to mind and spirit self-improvement, monkeys are what hold us back from thinking clearly, reaching our goals and feeling more peaceful.

The Ten Gifts by Robin Silverman

I know a lot about mental monkeys because I often feel like I am carrying around an entire zoo. "Go here!" one screeches. "No, go there!" another insists. They chatter on about my weight, my undone laundry and the garden I havenít started. Depending on the day, the setting or whoeverís present in the room with me, they may remind me incessantly that Iím about to miss a deadline, a train or an important piece of the conversation because Iím still stewing about something someone said a dozen years ago.

Mental monkeys, unfortunately, sabotage all other self-improvement methods. If I set the alarm clock to work out, I hear, "I donít want to get out of bed." If I try to meditate, they start talking about breakfast and the staff meeting at 10:00. Even trying something as simple as watching my breath is a challenge, since theyíll laugh and say, "Youíre not doing it right!"

Iíve done my best to get rid of my monkeys, but itís not so easy to do. No one else wants them. Have you ever seen the eyes of your friends or your co-workers glaze over when you try to give them some of whatís bothering you? Iíve tried ignoring my monkeys, but they just pop up in the middle of the night and, like infant children, scream until Iím awake enough to feed and comfort them. Soothing them with positive thoughts is only a temporary salve for their restlessness. Counseling silenced a few, but in time, their places were filled with new monkeys. Iíve thought about choking them more than once, but somehow that feels as if Iím suffocating a part of myself. I know lots of people who are carrying around dead monkeys on their backs, and theyíre not happy about it.

Ultimately, Iíve come to realize that when it comes to mental monkeys, thereís only one thing to do: play with them. When I do, something very interesting happens. They stop annoying me and start adding tremendous fun and energy to my life. When they call out one of their usual negatives, I simply answer, "Well, what do you want to do instead?" The answer almost always turns out to be something that increases my personal freedom, helps me to grow, or brings me a moment of joy.

When I get my monkeys off my back and hold them close to my heart, I find that they are actually very loving little creatures loyal to my happiness and well-being. Hereís an example. One night after dinner, I headed for my computer for a few more hours of work. A monkey piped up right away: "You shouldnít be doing that!" I knew within half an hour, he would make me feel heavy and tired, killing both my concentration and my enthusiasm for the project. Instead, I let him lead me to an hour of snuggling in front of the television with my daughter. We all had a few laughs, and I when went back upstairs to do the work, he whispered all kinds of funny, inspiring things in my ear that I knew my readers would love.

Something Wonderful is About to Happen by Robin Silverman

The older I get, the more I realize how important monkeys are and why itís actually a good thing that we all have them. Life is uncertain, which tends to make people very serious about it. Hugging a monkey wonít get rid of your illness, your financial problems or your relationship woes, but it will make your heart and arms stronger and your spirit a little lighter. Once in a while, it will free up a solution thatís been caged behind a wall of misery. When that happens, monkeys feel like miracles.

Hugging your monkeys is like playing with an adorable toddler who loves you unconditionally. It allows you to forget what you think you have to do or be. Hugging a monkey makes anything possible. Ironically, monkeys are sometimes the only way to get to the relief your mind and spirit have been craving.

Want to try it? The first thing to do is recognize when you have a monkey on your back. There are many ways to know for sure. One is to look at the scale. Are you carrying the weight of the worldóor a monkeyóon your shoulders? I often find that when Iím feeling stressed, itís because a worried or fearful monkey has jumped on board. If Iíve gained two or three pounds overnight, I can almost guarantee that Iím carrying a monkey.

Another way to know if youíre carrying a monkey is to see if you can hear your own thoughts. When my mind is racing, itís usually because a monkey is chattering away. Another way to tell is to listen to what is coming out of your mouth. If suddenly my comments turn negative or nasty, I probably have a misbehaving monkey somewhere.

A third way to tell if youíre shouldering a monkey is to check how tired you are. Some monkeys are very heavy, and will wear you out after a few hours. If youíre normally perky and suddenly find that youíre yawning all day, you can bet that a monkey has something to do with it. Nightmares, upset stomachs, chills and other symptoms of upset can also mean that youíre carrying a monkey. Learn to listen to your body, and youíll know when one is hanging around.

You can also tell if you have a monkey by looking around at the conditions of your environment. Monkeys are messy little things. If you have clutter everywhere or experience embarrassing moments that are akin to slipping on banana peels and falling flat on your butt, chance are good that some monkey is banging on your head.

Once youíre sure youíre carrying a monkey, the trick is to get it off your back and go face-to-face with it. Donít try to scare it off or ignore it. Monkeys may retreat temporarily, but they almost always come back noisier and hungrier than before. Instead, ask it what it wants. You will usually find that its requests are something your soul has been craving, like love, freedom, joy, growth or peace.

Once you know, ask yourself, "What can I do right now in this moment to experience that?" This instantly engages and improves both your mind and spirit. Look around, and you will undoubtedly see an opportunity. Grab it.

Come fully awake as youíre doing it. Experience it not only with all five of your senses (note: if youíre not eating anything, see if the moment has a "flavor"), but with your sixth sense, intuition. In other words, donít just live the moment; feel it. Let its pleasure make every cell of your body come alive. Praise it with words like, "This is fun!" or "Iím happy to be with you." Listen as the new, brighter belief escapes from your mouth. When it does, see if you have more energy, more hope or more genius insights about your life. Realize, too, that the vibration of sound is extremely powerful. Our creator spoke the world into being: "Let there be light." When it appeared, it was blessed, "This is good." The source did not curse it with, "Oops! Forgot the land and the water!" So remember: take notice of the good youíre experiencing. Energize it with spoken words of praise or gratitude.

Then watch what happens when the moment is over and you "return" to the problem that caused the monkey to squawk in the first place. Chances are good that it has either diminished, disappeared or been delegated to someone else. Trouble has a hard time sticking to happy people. This leaves you room to approach whatever is yours to do with a more relaxed attitude, opening the flow of energy so you can receive not only your own insights and wisdom, but attract that of others.

Hereís an example. Letís say your monkey tells you youíll never get a raise or a promotion at work. Instead, it wants to make more money and have more fun.

You look around. Itís almost 12:30, time for lunch. You could work at your desk through the lunch hour, but youíd done that dozens of times before, and hadnít received a dime extra for it. So you head for the door. On the way, you see your favorite co-worker, and ask her to go with you. The two of you spend an hour laughing and telling stories.

When you get back, you receive an Email from the boss talking about how people have been coming in late. Ordinarily, youíd be annoyed by this. But now, fresh from play, you find yourself offering the suggestion that instead of complaining or threatening, that he try giving each person a feather to glue on a huge sombrero each day they make it in on time. If the hat is covered within 30 days, he promises to wear it to work for another 30, providing that everyone still comes in on time. In fact, you say, youíll lend him the one you wore at your childís birthday party. Within 60 days, the department has a new habit, you have some great pictures for the company holiday party, and you suddenly find that people start talking about you as a possible manager.

So if you want to improve your mind, your spirit and your life, take the monkeys off your back and give them a hug. Let them bring you into the present so you can spend a few minutes or hours enjoying the life that is already yours. When you do, youíll likely find, as I did, that some of the things you worried about or regretted simply slipped away when you took your attention off them. That leaves you room to welcome the wonderful thoughts, hopes and desires that youíve held back for too long. Listen to those, and your monkeys will be happy to hug and play with you for a long, long time.

© Copyright Robin L. Silverman. 


Robin L. Silverman

Robin L. Silverman is a frequent contributor to SoulfulLiving.com. She is the author of ďThe Ten Gifts: Find the Personal Peace Youíve Always Wanted from the Ten Gifts Youíve Always Had.Ē She is currently making more changes in her life, and getting a degree in Change Leadership with a specialty in Energetics, the science of using the human biofield to make changes more easily. Sheís currently enjoying the blog of The Energy Lady at dearenergylady.blogspot.com. You can email her at robin@fullisticliving.com.


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