Get the Monkeys Off
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
© Copyright 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 email@example.com.
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