For years I believed the source of my negative mind chatter was the programmed responses of something I called The Drunk Monkey. You know what I am talking about. The Drunk Monkey is that voice that interrupts and interjects its opinions without your permission. It is unasked-for chatter about this or that. It is the distracting judgments running through my mind about everything; including things I knew nothing about. The critic. Self-loathing, doubt, fear, and negative projections.
This article contains 3 Key Take-Aways:
1. You can’t dominate and control your negative mind chatter to achieve peace of mind.
2. Your mind is not your friend. It doesn’t care about feeling peace and happiness.
3. Negative mind chatter is driven by 10 Hidden Motives To Survive which are an aspect of human consciousness, not psychology.
To kick things off, let me share a little context. I’ve been dedicated to creating a quiet, peaceful mind since I was a kid. (Check out my book Quiet Mind Epic Life for a detailed account of the journey that started at 9 years old.)
For decades I did what my mentors asked me to do. I tried to control my thoughts with affirmations, visualization, and reprogramming my thinking. It kinda worked. I got happier and more productive over time. Yet, I still found myself feeling fear, doubt, frustration, and anger on a pretty regular basis.
On my quest for a quiet mind, I was conflicted. On one hand I would affirm, “I’m a calm and peaceful person” and then on the other, one of my kids would have a meltdown and I was enraged. Ugh!
Everything changed after a trip to Tibet where I meditated for nearly a month. During that time, my mind became completely still. Whoo-hoo! It felt amazing.
But it won’t last.
When I arrived home in Orange County, CA it was as if my mind had come back from the dead. Without my permission, it went right back to its nasty habit of spewing negative opinions, forecasting negative futures, stressing me out, and creating conflict with its judgments about everyone and everything. What? Where did my peace go?
The stark contrast between my peaceful month in Tibet and daily life back home created an insight. I realized that my mind was not my friend. It wasn’t a trusted advisor. It didn’t care about my objective to be peaceful, enlightened, and prosperous. Its default mode was reactive, negative, angry, and manipulative. I realized that my negative mind chatter was my mind’s response to the environment.
In Tibet, I was on vacation. I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t responsible for anything. I was sitting, meditating, and enjoying life. At home, I had a wife, four kids, and two businesses to run. I had clients, bills, and pressing matters to attend to. The context of these two contrasting situations helped me to realize that my negative mind chatter was a reaction. Fueled by this insight I spent the next decade trying to understand why the mind reacted the way it did.
I became obsessed with the question, “What is the source of the negative mind chatter? Why does The Drunk Monkey keep talking weather I want it to or not?”
Using a customized suite of spiritual investigative tools that I now call The Rapid Enlightenment Process, I realized that negative mind chatter and all the unasked for mind chatter was the effect and not the cause. In other words, trying to fix your negative thoughts doesn’t work. That would be like chopping the weeds off at the top, they just grow back. You have to get to the root. In this case, the root is the context you are holding about the situation. It turns out there are only two contexts: Survival or Enlightened.
A survival context assumes that something needs to change. Whereas an enlightened context assumes that all is well. Neither is right or wrong / better or worse. They just produce different experiences in life. As I dug deeper and deeper into consciousness I was able to distinguish that my mind was driven by 10 motivations.
The 10 Hidden Motives to Survive
- Illogical rules
Unless you remove the mind’s motive for thinking, it will continue to react with judgment, anxiety, negativity, anger, doubt, and fear. Awareness of the 10 Hidden Motives To Survive makes you flexible which reveals new options for behavior. Those options give you the power to shift out of negative mind chatter and embrace the enlightened context that all is well. When you experience the world from the context all is well, your mind stops talking so much. You feel peaceful. You relax. Anxiety, stress, and pressure disappear.
When you develop the skills to transcend the 10 Hidden Motives To Survive, you thrive rather than survive. You can choose rather than react. You can observe rather than be at the effect of your negative feelings. You are willing to take action and fail because you are unaffected by the fears associated with failure and uncertainty.
The Punch Line:
Practice the living inside the context that all is well. Work to transcend the illusion that the world needs to change. Embrace the situation as it is. As you do this, your mind goes quiet, your fears subside and you feel peace.
I’m studying the philosophy of Stoicism, particularly the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius as well as the teachings of Taoism and the concept of WuWei. I appreciate your approach to life and your goal of a quiet mind. But I’m also curious about how you address the concept of evil, if you do. I know a few people who have no problems at all achieving a quiet mind while absolutely destroying, quite happily, the lives of those around them. Is it your belief that the victims of domestic violence, child abuse, rape, etc have an obligation to work to quite their own mind? I know that revenge is not the answer, but chasing an enlightened perspective, as you know, only goes so far. I know the only real answer is to surrender to the fact that I am only in charge of my own interpretation of “the facts” and not the behavior of others. But damn, Matthew. When I adopted this “que sera sera” attitude toward my stepfather, my problem ended, but then he started in on my younger sister. How can that be a good thing? Still working on that.