Have you ever had a little voice in your head tell you ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you’re not clever enough’, ‘you’re RUBBISH at business’ or (in my case) ‘you’re a BAD mother’…?
If so, brace yourself – you’ve just been attacked by a mind monkey.
Mind monkeys are nasty little creatures that live in your head.
They love putting a stop to your plans. Their favourite thing is to put you off trying anything new or different or challenging – they want to keep you STUCK where you are and they will say ANYTHING to keep you there.
Let me explain.
Without going into the psychology of this (because I’m DEFINITELY not qualified to do that) here’s the thing about mind monkeys.
When you are growing up, you learn things.
Lots of things.
About life, about behaviour.
About love, money, joy, looks, weight, everything. You learn about all of these things from your parents or relatives or carers, your teachers, your friends, from TV, radio, books and magazines – you learn from everyone around you and from your own experiences.
These become your beliefs
For example, if your parents didn’t have a lot of money they might have said ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ or ‘we’re not meant to be rich’. So you, naturally, as a child will take on these beliefs about money and YOU will grow up believing the same thing.
Maybe when you were 13 your teacher told you that you were definitely not artistic or not very good at maths. You will take that information, file it away in your subconscious and it will form a belief that could stay with you for the rest of your life.
And whenever you come to do something that involves the THING (art, maths, money) all these old beliefs flood back into your head in the form of mind monkeys. Their job is to stop you making a fool of yourself (because, remember your belief is you’re no good at it) so they want to STOP YOU by, basically, scaring the pants off you and knocking your confidence out from under you.
What does this have to do with business?
Well, mind monkeys are around in business too, great crowds of them, trying to stop you stepping out of your comfort zone and making a success of yourself.
So when your teacher told 13 year old you that you weren’t very good at maths, guess what happens when you have to do cashflow forecasting or manage budgets in your business? Panic! That’s what!
The mind monkeys come out and start shouting ‘you can’t do that! You’re RUBBISH at maths! You don’t even know one end of a spreadsheet from another, what do you think you’re doing? Stop now, before you make a fool of yourself!’
So you do. You give up because it feels hard and after all, you’re not a maths-type of person and you let the mind monkeys win.
When you start pricing your products or services, all your old beliefs about your own worth get tested. If you’re not feeling particularly confident, or if you’ve taken a few knocks along the way, the mind monkeys are going to gang up on you and start yelling ‘Who is going to pay THAT? Nobody, that’s who! Why would they pay YOU that? You’re just a nobody! There are far better people than you, why on earth would they choose you?’
Does this sound familiar by the way?
Yup, me too. I had a HORRIBLE run-in with a mind monkey a few years ago.
In my case, at my very first networking meeting when I was already terrified (I’m pretty shy!) and nervous and unsure of what to expect, the very first person I met was a guy with a woodworking business.
I’d got there early because I didn’t want to walk into a room full of people so he was the first to arrive. I can still remember his name even though it was 2005. His name was Tim.
I was grabbing a coffee and he came up and said ‘hi, so what do you do then?’
‘I’m a marketing consultant’, I replied, smiling.
And then he uttered 5 words that FLOORED me. Those 5 words stuck with me, limited my beliefs, messed with my head, influenced my pricing and killed what little confidence I had. For 7 years.
He said ‘oh God, not another one’.
I seem to remember squeaking something and running away – I couldn’t hear what else he said because my mind monkeys were DEAFENING.
‘Told you! What the heck where you thinking? Why on earth did you bother coming here, you stupid woman? See? There are millions of marketing consultants and everyone is totally sick of them. People HATE marketing consultants. And you’re not even a good one. How are you going to compete? You’ll never make a living. Why did you leave your job, you IDIOT’
And so, a brand new set of totally crap beliefs was formed, in the space of 10 seconds
I don’t remember anything else about that meeting.
But I remembered Tim’s words. For 7 years. It was THAT long before I realised how much of an impact his very rude, throwaway comment was still having on me all that time later.
It took me 7 years of struggling in business to get my confidence back, to realise he was talking rubbish and to make up my OWN brand new set of beliefs about my business and about myself.
How I Killed My Mind Monkey
I called him Tim. It was the least I could do.
I decided I had to tackle this horrible belief set once and for all.
First of all I looked at what had ACTUALLY happened.
He had said ‘oh God, not another one’.
So, in my head, I started to argue with my mind monkey (I know, it sounds crazy but this is what I do when I get a mind monkey attack and it works!)
I put some CONTEXT around his comment and what my mind monkey was saying – maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he’d had a BAD experience with a marketing consultant. Maybe he’d been married to a marketing consultant and had a messy divorce. Maybe he secretly WANTED to be a marketing consultant but had failed. Or maybe he was just a rude, grumpy sod who happened to be the first EVER person I spoke to at my first EVER networking meeting.
I put some FACTS around it – My mind monkeys had gone crazy but in the 7 years since TIM, I realised there weren’t many marketing consultants at all around where I live, and as marketing consultants go I was a pretty good one.
I looked at the EVIDENCE I had to show I didn’t deserve to feel bad. I looked at my Book Of Awesome (that’s next week’s blog – you definitely need one), at my results with clients, at what I had achieved, at my testimonials – I made myself feel REALLY GOOD and REALLY CONFIDENT.
I looked at my PLAN – I had a plan to build my business and it was GREAT. No matter what the mind monkey was telling me about not being good enough, he couldn’t argue with my plan.
I came to see the comment for what it was. A comment. By a rude man. Who was wrong.
By arguing with that mind monkey and proving him wrong, I could feel him shrinking. His voice got quieter and his power over me diminished.
I visualised this mind monkey called Tim, who looked a bit like a woodworker from Yorkshire, and I squished him in my mind. You know when you play that game where you get someone in the distance and line them up between your finger and thumb and pretend to squish them (or is that just me?!) well, I did that. I squished him, till he was gone.*
*other mind monkey extermination methods are available – zapping with a zap gun or bashing with a big mind monkey hammer are also very effective.
And even though Tim the mind monkey tried to come and visit a couple of times after that, I was ready for him with my evidence and my plan and my arguments, so he didn’t stick around long.
What Are YOUR Mind Monkeys Telling You?
Are you suffering with money or pricing mind monkeys? ‘Not Good Enough’ mind monkeys? ‘Too old’ mind monkeys? ‘Who the heck will listen to you?’ mind monkeys?
The first step in getting rid of your mind monkeys is to recognise them for what they are. Those nasty, critical little voices in your head are NOT helpful, they are mind monkeys and you don’t have to listen to them.
The second step is to realise mind monkeys LIE. They lie because they are keeping you stuck by throwing OLD, OUT OF DATE BELIEFS at you. What they are saying is NO LONGER TRUE. You can shut them up and form new beliefs about yourself and your business RIGHT NOW. THIS INSTANT. NO, really, right now – go on, do it! Whatever your biggest mind monkey is telling you about an OLD belief that’s keeping you stuck, change that belief. It’s no longer needed. It’s surplus to requirements. Thank you, very much.
The third step is to argue with them and throw context and fact and evidence at them – to prove to yourself and to them that you’re AWESOME, you’re more than capable of running this business and you’re doing just fine.
And the last step, prior to squishing the mind monkey in question is to ask it one of my favourite questions.
WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN?
This question usually makes mind monkeys spontaneously combust, thus saving you the trouble of squishing them.
The worst that can happen is rarely as bad as we think and when we face up to it, we realise we could probably cope.
Mind Monkey Advanced Level:
The other thing you need to know is eventually you will WELCOME the mind monkeys.
Why? Well because they ONLY appear when you are stepping out of your comfort zone, when you’re feeling vulnerable or nervous.
It means you’re right on the edge of some BIG personal growth. The trick is to squish them and keep going – your mission is to stretch that comfort zone till you can’t see the edges any more.
I can send you off into the world now as a fully qualified mind monkey exterminator and before you go you need to know – TODAY IS NATIONAL MIND MONKEY EXTERMINATION DAY! I think that deserves a cake.
Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.