It’s Election Week in the good old Dysfunctional States of America, and since so many of us are suffering as a result I thought it might be a good time to repost this reminder of why it is normal for human beings to feel, well, nuts.
Despair not, friends. All things pass. This will too.
(If you’re new to Monkeytraps, Steve is a therapist who specializes in control issues, and Bert is Steve’s control-addicted inner monkey. That’s the two of us above.
Yes, you heard me right.
Not embarrassed to admit it, either.
Because I know a secret.
You’re nuts, too.
How do I know this?
Because you’re human. (Unless, of course, you’re one of the many dogs or cats who enjoy this blog.)
And, being human, you’re a victim of what has been called monkeymind.
It’s what you hear in your head when your attention isn’t distracted.
It’s the sound of a brain which over millennia has evolved into a sort of top-heavy computer, built for problem-solving, and devoted to finding new problems to solve.
It’s the whispering, worrying, fretting, scolding and mocking that keeps you unhappy and on guard against life.
It’s the sound of a normal human mind at work.
In other words, the most human part of you.
Still not sure what I mean?
Experiment. Take a moment now (when you finish reading this sentence) to sit without thinking for, oh, a minute or so. Just sixty seconds.
The nuts part.
Steve wants to add something.
What makes it nuts is that it’s so detached from reality. Like a monkey swings from tree to tree to tree, monkeymind swings from past to future and back again, over and over, ceaselessly remembering, anticipating and fantasizing. It’s never still, never focused on the here-and-now — a Now which may actually be perfectly safe and okay. So when you’re in monkeymind you’re having all these feelings — often painful ones, anxiety and anger and such — that have nothing to do with what’s really happening in your life at the moment. It’s like being trapped in a nightmare, unable to wake up.
Speaking as a recovering inner monkey, I would add that there’s one other thing that makes monkeymind nuts.
It really really really believes in control.
It operates on the assumption that if we think and analyze and strategize long and well enough we can solve every problem and bring life under control. That if we could just figure things out, life could be perfect. Perfectly safe, perfectly comfortable, perfectly happy.
I remember a Little Rascals episode in which the kids got their mule to walk in a circle by extending a pole out over his nose with an apple dangling from the end. The donkey kept plodding after the apple endlessly, never getting closer, and apparently never noticing.
Yes. We all chase that apple.
Well, I for one am sick of it.
That’s why I’m a recovering monkey. I’m sick and tired of feeling victimized by my own mind.
Tired of fighting reality instead of accepting it.
Tired of trying to control everything.
Tired of this never-ending plod towards an apple I can never reach.
Tired — so, so tired — of being nuts.