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Success: managing your inner chimp
If someone told you there was a chimp in your brain and it doesn't always want you as a human to be happy or successful, how would you react?
Firstly, you’d probably try and get it out, then wonder why the hell it was there in the first place.
As human beings we’re always seeking to understand why we act and react to things in life in the way that we do.
Maybe we’re irrational and fail to see logic, or maybe we just get lazy. Then there’s worry, stress, and lack of confidence, which are all bound to happen at different points in our lives.
More often than not issues like these are covered in self-help books that can be found firmly on the wife or girlfriend’s side of the bookshelf.
But let’s face it, most guys don’t usually venture over there, which is why The Chimp Paradox, written by consultant psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, has come in to fill a void.
Endorsed by some of Britain's top professional athletes, Dr Peters' book can help men find a simple way to understand themselves and their minds.
The Chimp Paradox isn't a recipe for instant success, rather it offers up a blueprint or framework that people can apply to themselves and their life.
“My remit is that I just want people to get quality of life. For them to be happy, confident, self-assured, inspirational and successful,” Dr Peters told MSN Him.
“I want to give people an understanding of the structure of the mind in a simple way that’s accessible.
“Then I want them to understand the rules of the mind and how it works, and then I want them to apply that to themselves individually, so that they can actually work out from their perspective how their particular mind is functioning.”
Meeting your chimp
The Chimp Paradox begins by offering up a concept that simplifies how the human mind works and introduces us to our inner chimpanzee.
The chimp, as Dr Peters puts it, is simply an 'emotional machine' that makes up one of three parts in our unique psychological mind alongside our ‘human brain’ and our ‘computer brain’.
“The chimp can be a good thing, but generally it doesn't help and it sabotages people,” Dr Peters explains.
“It’s got a reason for doing that because it has its agendas and its own way of thinking about the world.”
More often than not these agendas or ‘drives’ are highly emotional and at times very illogical leading to a huge conflict of interest with the ‘human brain’.
Our 'human brain' is the person we really are and acts in a logical way after gathering all available facts.
The ‘computer brain’ is where both our human and chimp store information and experiences and acts as a reference point for both as we grow older.
Critically all three brains operate at different speeds and power.
Our computer brain is by far the quickest but this is followed by the chimp, which is five times stronger than our human one – which is where things get interesting in learning how to manage it.
Chimp versus human
Picture this. It’s 6:30am, your alarm buzzes, and as the rain pours outside the window that run in the park you promised to do suddenly seems like a very bad idea.
The reasons why it’s best to stay in that nice warm bed begin to swirl in your head and within a flash a hand has slapped snooze and you tell yourself ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’.
Your inner chimp has just won the battle.
While the book aids in understanding how the mind works, it also gives people the skills to help manage it, thus getting the chimp out from under the covers so we can get on with life.
Certified by world sport
After spending 20 years working in hospital psychiatry and as a senior lecturer at Sheffield University, Dr Peters’ mind management concept has taken him into the often emotionally charged world of elite sport.
Dr Peters has been credited with helping athletes to realise their full potential by overcoming mental hurdles that can affect performance during competition.
While Dr Peters has worked across a number of sports as a psychiatrist, his involvement with Britain’s cycling team has seen him hailed as a “genius” by Sir Dave Brailsford, performance director of British Cycling.
And there’s no bigger endorsement of the chimp model and its success than that of Team GB’s eight cycling gold medals won at the London Olympics last year.
The Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins is a firm believer in Dr Peters’ mind model and has spoken of the need to keep the chimp in the cage when dealing with a pressurised situation and to react with logic not emotion.
Track queen Victoria Pendleton is another who holds Dr Peters in high regard, crediting him with turning her career around when she had lost all self-belief.
Those in the football world have also come calling for Dr Peters, whose talent has been recognised by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who has since employed him to work alongside players at the club.
English football’s deep thinker and current Olympique Marseille midfielder Joey Barton is another who has utilised Dr Peters’ model.
After being sent off on the final day of the 2011-12 Premier League season against Manchester City, the much-maligned bad boy revealed that his chimp had a hard time dealing with injustice.
Success, happiness and confidence awaits
There’s no doubt it takes time to tame your chimp, but with enough practice the powerful effects of this mind model can be life changing.
With a proven track record in elite sport, The Chimp Paradox isn't the kind of book that will sit on the shelf, rather it will be the ultimate companion on your unique journey through life.
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