Hold My Monkey: Emotions and Communication
Hold My Monkey
Communication is key.
We have heard it time and time again, and that’s because it absolutely is. This post is to help us during this time of isolation when we aren’t seeing friends and loved ones. It’s to help us firstly realise how we ourselves are communicating and how it is a result of how we are feeling and secondly to understand how others are communicating and how it is a result of how we are feeling.
I’m going to use a common simile that was also used very well in Steve Peter’s book The Chimp Paradox - which comes highly recommended. Let’s imagine that we all have a monkey. This monkey sits on our shoulder and we carry it everywhere. Our job is to keep our monkey happy and when it gets unhappy we need to address it, comfort it and restore it back to happiness.
Yes, the monkey represents your emotions - that is your self esteem, your pride, your feelings. Most of the time, as functioning adults we can calm our monkey and keep it happy. We can give it what it needs and tell it to ignore most things that upset us and talk it round to being a happy monkey. Sometimes this is not the case. Sometimes we need our monkey to be held. We need to take our monkey off our shoulder and give it to a friend or relative to hold and comfort. Maybe we don’t have the energy, maybe we don’t know how, maybe we can’t understand what’s upsetting it, so we ask someone we know and trust to see if they can help. Most of the time they can. Just by having your monkey held, listened to, reassured and having the weight off our shoulders can do absolute wonders.
What this means is, just by being there and listening, holding the monkey for them or having your monkey held, can really help. You don’t need to have answers, in fact most of the time you don’t need to say a thing, just sit there, hold it, let it tire itself out and then give it back. Listen, stroke it a little, maybe offer it some food (reassurance, acknowledgement, understanding) and away you go. Happy monkey restored.
Now, when things get particularly tough, we can throw our monkeys. This is generally the case when we let things boil over, either we don’t recognise we’re upset or we just ignore our monkeys and let them continue to be upset until one day they just jump on top of someone and then they’re forced to deal with a monkey jumping all over them.
This is important to note because firstly, it’s good to know if this happens to you, not to take it personally and start shouting and screaming and the monkey, but instead hold the monkey at a distance until it tires itself out and then begin to comfort it when it stops kicking and screaming. Secondly, it’s important to notice the build up so you minimise the chances of you doing this to anyone else. And if you do, you need to recognise when you’ve done it, even if it s after you’ve calmed down.
Lastly, some people have a monkey that just runs riot. It upsets people, jumps all over them, knocks things over and is just a general nuisance. In these cases, it not your job to contain the monkey, but it is your job to make sure you’re not getting your hair ripped out by a rogue monkey! Recognise when someone is just letting their monkey running around, its irresponsible of them to do so and generally if they’re a friend or a loved one they won’t be doing this. In this case, it’s your job to remain cool.
So as we are all under more stressful circumstances, it can be easy for our emotions, our monkeys, to get upset. Hopefully with this little bit of an insight it can help you to understand a little better what is going on and how you can respond. Remember, you are the master of your monkey, not the other ay around - although your monkey will try and make you believe otherwise. If you want us to expand on this and talk more about it then let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org