first of all, may I introduce you to Mickey? he is my Instant Gratification Monkey.

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I’m really grateful to Amy at Sober-bia for introducing me to him in her comment on an earlier post of mine about procrastination. if you’d like to see where he comes from then please visit this post by Tim Urban at waitbutwhy, and these two as well, which explain this genius concept in full.

the basic premise is that the Rational Decision Maker inside all of us is subject to the whims of our Instant Gratification Monkey.

‘The fact is, the Instant Gratification Monkey is the last creature who should be in charge of decisions—he thinks only about the present, ignoring lessons from the past and disregarding the future altogether, and he concerns himself entirely with maximizing the ease and pleasure of the current moment. He doesn’t understand the Rational Decision-Maker any better than the Rational Decision-Maker understands him—why would we continue doing this jog, he thinks, when we could stop, which would feel better. Why would we practice that instrument when it’s not fun? Why would we ever use a computer for work when the internet is sitting right there waiting to be played with? He thinks humans are insane.’

having found the concept of Wolfie really useful, I decided it would be equally helpful to allocate a face and a name to my IGM – hence, Mickey.

there are lots of great tips for co-existing with Mickey in the original posts. one I’d like to add to them is that I’ve discovered that Mickey likes to lie in of a morning. of course he does! where’s the instant gratification in getting out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off?

so if I write my to-do lists before Mickey surfaces, yawning, chattering and scratching his hairy little bottom, then my Rational Decision Maker gets to hold the pen. (by the way, to-do lists are working much better for me nowadays than they used to – I think with the reduction in my perfectionism levels I am making them more realistic and I usually complete most of the tasks on them – which was CERTAINLY not the case previously.)

and once the lists are written, if Mickey starts up his antics, then as long as I can weave my way back to them, I can see what the Rational Decision Maker had in mind. me at 7am is a far better judge of what I need to be doing than me at 4.30pm when all that seems like a good idea is falling face first into the cake tin….Mickey LIKES cake 🙂

but then I began to wonder if in fact Mickey was the only monkey in my own personal anthropomorphic personification jungle. because quite often he seems to come around when I am low, or sad… which is when I identified Millie. here she is:

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(and yes, I am disappointed too that my cheeky rebellious monkey is a boy and my needy vulnerable monkey is a girl. I tried to make them the other way round. they were not having it. sorry and all that.)

Rick Hanson has written a splendid series of blog posts which I don’t think I’ve posted on here before, which encapsulate how we can meet our basic human needs for safety, satisfaction and connection as follows;

pet the lizard, feed the mouse, and hug the monkey.

Millie is my inner monkey who needs a hug… and I feel ridiculously protective of this personification, so there must be something in it? in his post on hugging the monkey Dr Hanson describes how we can internally take in and take on experiences of being cared about – so that we can build up what he calls our internal ‘caring committee’ as opposed to the itty-bitty-shitty-committee who used to run the inside of my head… Dr Hanson says:

‘So – get a sense of parts within you that want to feel seen, included, appreciated, wanted, respected, liked, cherished, and loved. Everyone has these parts. They often feel young, soft, or vulnerable. As you open to hearing from them, notice any dismissal of them, or minimizing of their needs, or even disdain or shaming. Ask your caring committee to stick up for these parts, and to tell them their longings are normal and healthy.

Imagine your caring committee soothing very young parts of yourself . . . praising and delighting in older parts of you . . . offering perspective and wisdom about tough experiences you’ve had . . . reminding you of your truly good qualities . . . pulling for the expression of the best in you . . . hugging you, hugging those soft longing parts inside you, giving them what they need . . . and feeling down to the soft furry little sweet monkey inside you and every human being, holding and loving and hugging it.

And meanwhile, your young, yearning, vulnerable, or bruised parts – and even your inner monkey – can feel that they are receiving what they’ve always needed, what everyone needs: recognition, inclusion, respect, and love.’

it has been suggested that addiction and lack of human connection are strongly linked. so anything that can help us build more of that into ourselves can only help us in this journey, yes? Dr Hanson suggests that we visualise actual people (or even Disney characters!)  that we know to form this caring committee. I love this idea but I am not quite so keen on his phrase.

I am putting together my own list of inspiring individuals – my Truthful Encouraging Awesome Mentors. people I know in real life whether today or in the past, or online, or through their achievements, or from back in history… I think I’ll ask Dame Ellen MacArthur to be Honorary Chairwoman 😉

I wonder whom you would have on your TEAM?

have a great week-end, and give your monkeys a hug from me! Prim xx

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