Be Aware Of The Chimp

Feelings Mindset

Picture this; you are in a zoo and there is a chimp enclosure. For me, it is the highlight of my trip to any zoo. Seeing the chimps making plenty of noise, and getting up to all sorts of shenanigans. My particular highlight was seeing a chimp thinking it was part of a heavy metal rock band at Colchester Zoo… 

What do you think would happen if you allowed these chimps out of their enclosures, allowing them to do whatever they like? 

My view would be carnage! They would get up to all sorts. I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Longleat as of yet, but I have heard all sorts of stories of the monkeys pulling items off cars from aerials to wipers. 

What has monkeys got to do with mindset?

Imagine your mind having two seperate operatives. One part being operated by yourself (the human) and the other being operated by the chimp. 

Thinking of it like this, we have our minds being controlled by different things. As you may have come across in life, when two people try to work together it isn’t always the most collaborative. If two people don’t get along, or have differing ideas, the result isn’t what is expected, desired or up to standard. 

Now, a big reason for this ‘team’ not working well can come down to various things such as values & beliefs systems, personality traits etc. but for the point of this post we will be focusing on feelings & emotions. 

The Human

The human part of the brain deals with facts. So if two people were not getting along the human part of the brain would look for logic & facts. Once the facts are established then a decision or response can be made. Fact finding can take a little while if the facts are not readily available. This part of the brain is the prefrontal cortex. 

This region of the brain is implicated in planning, complex cognitive behaviour, personality expression, decision making & moderating social behaviour. It includes helping to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good & bad, better & best, same & different and working towards a defined goal. 

The Chimp

Our chimp, or our limbic systems, deals with feelings rather than facts. Like a chimp would be, it is faster than the human. The limbic system acts 5 times faster than that of the prefrontal cortex. However because it acts on feeling rather than facts it can have a detrimental effect, if allowed.

So for example, if you were walking down the street you and a couple are walking towards you who are whispering to one another, but looking towards you. Your chimp will kick into action because it is quicker than the human part of the brain. Due to it working on feeling it may start to come up with phrases such as ‘they’re talking about me’ or ‘what have they noticed wrong about me?’. This could then lead to the feeling of being anxious, perhaps angry or other emotions which may not benefit you. 

There is nothing you can do about the chimp at this stage, it is just too quick. However what you can do, is find a way of managing it, and talking to it. 


A chimp that isn’t being controlled is a bit like a dog being walked who isn’t controlled. It could lash out if it is scared or feeling threatened. A real fight or flight situation may happen. With the two people above if the chimp isn’t managed it may cause you to lash out. You may demand what they are saying, it could get physical, or just verbal. Or if the flight occurs you may turn around, cross the road, or find another way of avoiding the situation. 

Now, the human will act upon the facts above, so if the chimp is managed then the human will be able to present the facts of the situation. The facts on the above were two people were walking down, and whispering. Does this mean they were talking about you? No. What would the outcome be if you just continued walking? Nothing of real significance. 

Another example could be your partner hasn’t come straight home from work. Your chimp may act upon feelings, and be like ‘he/she hasn’t come home yet, who have they met up with’. This then has a knock on effect and your chimp goes into overdrive, and starts accusing your partner of all sorts. Later that night, it turns out there was an accident, and your partner was stuck in traffic, and their phone had died. 

We experience feelings all of the time, if your mindset is not strong enough, you could end up acting on them, and causing problems for yourself & others. Remember the person you are interacting with will also have a chimp talking to them trying to take control. Two out of control chimps won’t be a pretty sight. Real carnage could ensue. 

A big tip would be to breathe, talk to the chimp and then act. 

Security & Assurance

Most of the time the chimp is looking for some reassurance and security. Much like chimps in the wild. If they feel threatened in anyway they will look to defend themselves. We, as humans, have pride and don’t want our pride to take a hit. 

When you are comfortable within yourself then you won’t mind what others think of you. You won’t even think about others thinking about you because you are too busy focusing on improving your life. 

Those who don’t have a strong mindset are likely to be those who lash out. Someone who gets physically aggressive is someone who is acting upon emotion and feeling. Whilst they may think they are ‘big & hard’ actually they are not. They are weak because they cannot control their emotions. 

The lashing out occurs because they are trying to put on an exterior shield, whereas they should be looking internally to work upon something which isn’t quite right. They try to make themselves feared so they have some form of security. In the example above of the two people, the strong minded person will continue walking not giving it much thought, whereas the weaker minded person will act upon it, whether that be fight or flight. 

Acting On Feeling / Emotion

Now from the above you may think never to act upon feeling / thinking. Wrong! There will be times the facts are not available and you may need to make a decision. You will only have the feeling to work on, or you get a ‘gut instinct’. Something may just feel different. 

In these situations you can act upon the feeling, but be aware of the delivery of the message. The meaning of your communication is the response that you get. So think about the outcome that you want from the situation. If you are looking for to resolve something, then coming across all hot headed won’t lead you to the outcome you desire. 

Talk to your chimp, understand what it’s needs are. Some chimps just want a little bit of care and love. 

Want to work on your chimp, or your mindset? Get in touch today

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