Don’t Feed the Monkey

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Allow me to introduce you to an acquaintance of mine. This is Monkey Mind, or as I call him because I know him so well, MM. MM is a complete and total asshole. Now, you may think that’s a bit harsh, but once I tell you more about him, I’m sure you’ll agree. In fact, you may realize that you are acquainted with him as well.

MM creeps into your life in seemingly innocuous ways. He makes you think that he’s there to look out for your well-being. No. He is there to fuck with your head. He often shows up after or during times of trouble, sadness, trauma, tragedy, and major life decisions. He doesn’t mess around with the little stuff, like what to wear to work or what to cook for dinner. He goes after the big things. Relationships. Jobs. Health. Self-Esteem. The things that make us tick, make our hearts skip beats, and make life worth living.

The way MM usually works is by being that initial voice of caution when we’re thinking about something. At first, it seems like he really has our best interests in mind. Don’t be fooled. This is how he lures you into his trap. What starts out as “Are you sure that’s the right job for you?” quickly becomes “You aren’t qualified. Stay where you are because it’s safe and known and easier.” Or “Be more understanding of your mentally ill girlfriend. She can’t help the way she behaves” turns into “You might as well just learn to deal with it because if you leave her she’ll probably try to kill herself. Again. Besides, it’s not like anyone else is going to want you.” Or “Maybe she’s interested but just as nervous as you” turns into “You never had a chance! How could you possibly have misinterpreted a situation so badly. You are a fucking moron.”

MM is a master manipulator. He learns your fears and insecurities and flaws and does everything he can to expose them. He makes you question everything you say and do. He makes you overanalyze situations. He makes you doubt yourself. You start to question your own judgment and end up unsure of whether or not you can trust yourself or anyone around you. He keeps you from making changes in your life that would be good for you but very bad for him. Because when we are happy or content or sure, MM has no place in our lives. And that is what scares him the most.

He is the master of regret. How many times have we stopped ourselves from telling someone how we felt because we didn’t want to look like a fool or be rejected? How many times have we decided to not make a change because he convinced us that the status quo was safer? How many times have we doubted ourselves and our own self-worth because he convinced us we were too damaged, too unattractive, too unworthy to be wanted by anyone? He takes advantage of us when we are at our most vulnerable and doesn’t let up. He keeps us awake at night, going over all the scenarios for all the situations we care most about. The what-ifs start to flood our head day and night. What if I had applied for that other job? What if I had confronted my ex about her behavior? What if I had told that girl I really liked her? We start to feed MM with our own negativity and self-doubt. And do you know what happens then? He starts flinging his shit all over the pristine walls of our self-esteem and ego.

The other problem with MM is that he convinces you to not talk about him. He tells you to keep it to yourself because otherwise, people are going to think you are fucking nuts. And none of us want people thinking that. But the truth is, we all have dealt with MM at some point in time. Anybody who tells you otherwise is either delusional or a liar. Some are lucky to have not dealt with him much. Some of us have faced him more times than we care to admit. Talking about MM isn’t crazy. Admitting that you have to deal with him doesn’t make you nuts. It makes you honest. Talking about him forces us to confront the issues that he’s trying to control. And when we confront those issues, we take them back for ourselves. We make them ours again. We take responsibility for our thoughts and actions. We admit to being scared and vulnerable and unsure.

I’ve learned from experience how to best deal with MM. That does not mean, however, that I’m immune to his influence. Many years ago, he could have me curled up in a fetal position, crying on the floor without much effort. Now, not so much. He has to work much harder to get to me. He has to pick his moments. And he does. He knows that relationships are still a tough area for me, so he focuses on that. He convinces me to not take chances, not be bold, not make myself vulnerable. I convince myself I’m respecting others’ boundaries when the truth is I’m just scared as hell. Scared of rejection. Scared of looking like a fool. Scared of being wrong. So MM sits there, laughing at me. I sit here, trying to convince myself to do what feels right and not live with any regrets. To be bold. To take the chances that scare me. To make myself vulnerable. And by doing that, I don’t feed MM. I take away his power. I take away his ability to fling shit on my walls. And they are MY walls. Today, I’m reclaiming them.

1 comment for “Don’t Feed the Monkey

  1. Cranky Cuss
    January 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Unfortunately, MM is the house guest who never leaves. I’m well acquainted with his brother.

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