Keeping your monkey mind in check

Do you have a monkey mind?

I have a mindfulness technique that really helps people.  When something is bothering you, your mind is racing, and you are replaying scenarios in your mind repeatedly, you may or may not be aware of this incessant thought pattern.  Often people tell me that they just can’t turn off the thoughts and they are over-analyzing a situation, but don’t know how to stop it.

Here is the tip:  Stop yourself, be present, and ask yourself this one question “Do I need to be thinking about this right now?”.  You will find that asking yourself this question usually warrants the answer of “No!  I sure don’t!”

When something is bothering you, and your monkey mind is jumping around, take a moment to see if you have essentially made a decision on how you will handle the situation, and if you have, then you can tell your monkey mind it doesn’t need to be thinking about it further. An example is:  You’ve had a bad encounter with a co-worker who made a snide comment at you in a meeting, and hasn’t spoken to you since.  For the next two days, you’ve been stewing about this and angry at this person.  You have decided to approach this person tomorrow and ask if there is anything wrong.  — Now, you’ve made a decision on what your action will be, so at this point, you no longer need to think about it anymore.  Again, ask yourself “Do I need to be thinking about this right now?”.

This is a great way to catch yourself thinking useless thoughts. You are now aware, and can consciously change your thoughts.

I have found this extremely useful, and I hope you do too!

3 thoughts on “Keeping your monkey mind in check

  1. Wendy,
    what i, the spirit mind, often says to that busy mind is – “I’m not there right now, I’m here” then i look around and bring myself gradually back to the present moment. this happens a lot with me and i’m getting a lot better at catching myself in the act.

  2. If you find yourself worrying about something, another question you can ask is “am I OK right now, this very moment?” – and the answer is almost always yes. The monkey mind is forever projecting into the past or the future.

    Projecting into the past: ruminating, remembering, replaying and regretting…
    Projecting into the future: worrying, anticipating, saying ‘what-if’…

    But the past and future are not places you can visit. They don’t actually exist anywhere but your mind. The playground of the monkey. The only thing that is real, and the only thing that really matters is the present moment because that is the only place you can actually act. The next time you find yourself projecting away from the now, remember that the past and the future aren’t real. They are just in your mind.

    • Hi Ken,
      Your advice is really helpful for everyone in general, but particularly for those who suffer from anxiety. Do you know of any good books that are about using self-talk to manage anxiety?

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