Is taking ‘Control of your Monkey’ possible?

The Short answer is:

                  Yes! we think so but, maybe control is the wrong word?


We think it’s certainly worth a little contemplation and study before you write off the possibility……..


What if I told you something you already know?

Shouting at your Monkey or ignoring your Monkey doesn’t work well

What if I suggested something you might already suspect?

Taking the time to form a partnership and build a relationship seems to shift the whole dynamic

All you need to do is take some simple steps and watch the results with an open mind –

The Serenity Prayer

The serenity prayer is a classic written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. It goes something like this:

“Give us the courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.”

There are several versions of this prayer. Another one is:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

The key things that interest us are the options that the poem allows us to consider:

  • Understanding that somethings can be changed and some can’t.
  • Choosing and choices – just because something can be changed doesn’t mean it should be changed or that we are the ones to change it.
  • Recognising that not choosing serenity and continuing to carry an emotion about something which cannot be changed hurts us.

And perhaps hidden in all this, one other thing which concerns us at the Misaligned Monkey:

  • Recognising that just because ‘everyone’ believes something can’t be changed doesn’t mean it’s true and we need the ‘wisdom’ to know the difference.

Niebuhr’s prayer originally asked for serenity, what we might describe as ‘being ok with’ or ‘accepting’ that somethings can’t be changed. Certainly, accepting things can’t be changed can save us a lot of time but if we are not serene in the process then the ultimate cost can be worse than continuing to try.

Furthermore, accepting as a fact any belief that doesn’t suit us is not a good strategy unless we are absolutely convinced the belief is true and the facts cannot be changed.

Locus of control

In Sports Psychology we learn to ‘control the controllables’ and ameliorate the effects of the things we can’t control. Early good decisions to split these and deal appropriately are a key part of winning.

There is much psychological research on what is called the locus of control. People differ in terms of how much they think they can control and do control their own lives. Some people believe circumstances, other people, and maybe fate control everything. Some of us believe the locus of control is inside us and that we are masters of our own destiny or the captains of our own ship.

This idea about deciding what you can control and what you can’t is a fundamental part of any model you may have of how the world works. The difficulty of getting the balance right and the emotional nature of accepting truths we might not like has ensured that the concept has received a lot of coverage.

This is a fundamental personal decision about our lives that, like many personal decisions, are often left to habit, history, and group think. Some people believe the locus or point of control is completely outside themselves. This may come down to a belief that God will provide and if poorly interpreted this may mean we do nothing. Others over-prepare for everything. Somewhere in the middle may be right for you.

Our beliefs about the degree of control we have over our lives and our circumstances produces massive differences in how we live our lives. Most of us believe we have some, but not total control over our lives and so the locus of control varies from subject to subject. For example, I think I can alter my body weight (internal locus of control) but I cannot determine who wins the next election (external locus of control).

This simple belief about whether you can or can’t control anything is fundamental if you are looking to change your world.

This leads us back to the nature of your beliefs about your relationship with the Monkey.

The current wisdom says the Monkey and the chattering distraction cannot be changed. Most meditators are taught to believe that the Monkey is


  • a chattering fool
  • something to be ignored at all costs
  • uncontrollable

For most of us, this belief about the Monkey is a good example of something we accepted as being largely outside our control. Something we had to put up with and achieve our goals despite their efforts to distract us from our purpose.

The distraction and the impact an off-piste Monkey can have on our Focus and Attention and subsequently our results is massive.

Logically we don’t want to believe they are outside of our control and yet the weight of opinion leaves most of us thinking there is no real choice.

Based on our delegates, many had achieved some control of the Monkey by replacing the flow of random thoughts with a focus on some future performance or achievement. Once they became clear on this performance or achievement, most noticed a link between a strong and exciting goal or activity and a reduction in Monkey distractions.

There are many techniques and approaches for ameliorating the effect of the Monkey’s activity. Much of sports psychology is founded on the idea of controlling what you think gives you more power to get the results you visualise. Books like The Secret and the multitude of visualisation and focus tools from breathing and chanting to goal setting and affirmations enable us to dull the impact of our Monkey on our day-to-day activity by creating a strong consuming focus on something that means something to us.

All these techniques give us some measure of relief or peace even. However, often at the time when we need relief most, when the stress or achievement is at its highest, our resolve crumbles and thoughts sowing seeds of doubt and distraction arise and do their damage.

We believe you can build on these coping techniques and underpin them by reengineering the basic nature of the relationship you have with your Monkey. This new approach creates a foundation of respect, trust, and working together that achieves a more permanent and long-term fix and natural practice.

Cause vs Effect

When we try to change things, our efforts have more impact when we target the causes rather than the ten effects that the causes create. Addressing the core relationship with your Monkey means you can target the root causes of their behaviour. It’s like shutting the gate before the horse bolts.

Rather than sticking plasters on the cracks, you can erase the cracks permanently. Any techniques you have learnt will still help but if you first ensure the foundation of the relationship is set to partnership, the effectiveness of these tools will increase.

Focusing on the Monkey first makes sense

Everything you do is affected by your focus and attention. If your Monkey constantly distracts you, your results can be compromised. Permanently reducing distraction caused by the Monkey enables you to tackle all other tasks more effectively.

Check the current state of your relationship here

Read the full story here