Nurture and manage your Chimp


  1. Reflect on emotional situations and identify how your Human could have handled them
    Look back at all the situations you’ve been involved in during your day and ask yourself how your Human and your Chimp could have dealt with them. For example, if someone offended you and your Chimp reacted emotionally, ask yourself how your Human would have responded. Compare and write down the differences between the two responses.
  2. Ask “Do I want…?” questions to recognize if your Chimp is hijacking you
    For example, if you’re worried about something, ask yourself “Do I want to worry?” If the answer is “No” then it’s your Chimp that’s in control. If you’re justifiably angry about an injustice, you can ask “Do I want to have this angry emotion?” If the answer is “No” then your Chimp is the one feeling this way. But since your Human would agree with your Chimp in this situation, thank your Chimp for the emotion and address the situation via the Human. If you ask, “Do I want to be behaving this way?” and your answer is “Yes” then your Human is in control. Whenever you have a “No” answer, take steps to manage your Chimp to prevent it from hijacking you.
  3. Nurture your Chimp before managing it
    If you’re feeling territorial, create a safe space for yourself e.g. a room in the home where nobody’s allowed to disturb you. If you’re feeling insecure at work because a colleague keeps encroaching on your responsibilities, have a conversation with your line manager to clarify your roles. If you’re feeling insecure about your performance at work, seek out feedback from someone whose opinion you respect. Taking care of your Chimp’s needs settles it down and makes it easier to manage it. 
  4. Manage your Chimp by exercising it
    If you’re feeling agitated, allow yourself to vent your frustration to release the emotion. Give yourself about 10 minutes to say exactly what you think so that your Chimp can tire itself out. Do this alone in private or talk to someone you trust instead of acting out publicly.
  5. Manage your Chimp by using logic and reason
    Once your Chimp has fully vented its frustration, it’s time for your Human to step in with reason and logical facts. For example, if someone has betrayed you, acknowledge that an injustice has occurred but also accept that life is sometimes unfair. Though your Chimp may want revenge, let them know that there are limits on how much time and energy you can put into seeking justice. You can say, “It’s not the end of the world. I can deal with this issue as an adult and I choose not to stay upset about this forever. I will move on.”
  6. Manage your Chimp by distracting or rewarding them
    Let’s say you’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning because your Chimp tells you it’s warm and cozy under the covers. You can distract it by saying, “We’re going to count down from 5 to 1. When we get to 1, we don’t think. We just get up out of bed.” As you distract the Chimp with the count down, remove the covers and quickly get out of bed. If you want to finish writing 10 emails but your Chimp is feeling lazy, you can say “After you finish 5 emails, you can have a coffee.” Your Chimp will allow you to focus on your work just to receive the reward.   
  7. Adopt a NEAT mindset
    NEAT stands for Normal, Expected, Accepted, and Taken care of. If you’re struggling to manage your Chimp, understand that it is normal to have emotional outbursts that are unmanageable. Expect such situations to happen occasionally so be prepared for them when they do. Accept that you are not perfect and that your Chimp can be too powerful for your rational mind. Finally, take care of the results of your emotional outbursts by apologizing to those you may have hurt or forgiving yourself if you feel you’ve behaved badly.  


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