• Matthew Walker

T3 | Avoiding the Chimp

There's a book (well there's likely more than millions), on tackling negative thinking - but one in particular, 'The Chimp Paradox' that deserves time in the sun.


Now, this is a book that I'm actually yet to read, however I'm well aware of it's content and methods (thanks sis ;). It's a book that defines that 'voice in your head' as a chimp that every so often chips in with an opinion that is often unwarranted and just isn't useful in any fashion. That voice that can stop you from fulfilling dreams and drag down the ability to achieve goals. It's a negative voice that does us no favours, banging away on a cymbal that'll make your head spin.


Yes, this is an alternative blog post that will mention Chimps a plenty, and feature many a chimp image. HOWEVER, this is a blog post that does not strike a line through the beautiful creatures that are the Chimpanzee themselves, nor does it apply to only creative thinkers. Negativity seems more prevalent now than ever, across all industries and disciplines.

The modern world and digital age loves them self a gif - this gif chimp is the chimp you'll want to avoid.


I've battled this chimp for as long as I can remember and have seen that develop an Impostor Syndrome branch, which I've found ways of tackling. Keep reading to hear my T3 (top three) list of ways that I find useful in avoiding this annoying chimp.


I'm certainly not a trained healthcare professional or mindfulness coach, but these are simply tried and tested methods that I've found super useful.



| #1 - Smile

Sounds like this should be an absolute breeze, but if you've allowed that negative wall to build up, it can feel so heavy, so overbearing, so numbing. Yet, with experience - when that Chimp starts to air its opinion, these days, I'll just smile in its face. This for me, has a profound impact by immediately breaking any traction that the negative voice can gather. Stopping it dead, stopping its flow.

Now, I'm not saying you have to smile like the Joker until your ears pinch (dunno, perhaps that'll work for you), but just something so subtle can help ease that cloud that wants to grow thicker and greyer. Don't let it, just give a small unassuming smile toward yourself, or inward, and feel that presence lift. I've begun doing this and find it to be an energy-free way of shooting down that cloud before it has chance to grow dense.


| #2 - Breath

A slightly more meditative practice, but as above - super easy, it's free and very powerful.

We've all heard someone say "go and get some fresh air to cool down", or something along those lines for when someone is wound up. Well, it's with good substance to do this. You don't have to physically leave the house and stand in the cold, just take one breath (or however many you need), deep into you lungs and breath out slowly. Breath in for 4 and out for 8, that's a technique I learnt from when our boy was born, and my wife swears by it.


Just breathing and allowing yourself to clear your headspace will open up a part of your brain that can see clearer in amongst the cloud and the Chimps constant bantering.



| #3 - Listen to Podcasts

It's 2019, podcasts are everywhere. Everyone's producing one. My website is littered with posts, mentions, and credits from working within podcasts. There is a rich archive of themed podcasts available for free that focus purely on positive psychology and positive reinforcement. My collaborative work with The Flourishing Centre is a good example - here the content centres around building a positive working headspace and environment, using examples from trained practitioners and those that receive live coaching.

The content itself is one thing, but often it's about knowing that others are out there, from varying backgrounds and disciplines, feeling the same pull towards the dark side (I'm a Star Wars fan, apologies for that one ;).


Hearing those stories and being a part of the conversation is really warm to listen to, and affirming. There are so many, download Podbean for free onto your smartphone and you'll have a plethora of podcast material to digest.



The above are super simple practices and resources that I've found useful more times than I can remember. Try them, they may or may not work for you, but you'll discover ways that at least give you traction to finds methods that swing in your direction.


See you in the next one!


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