Feed Your Creativity A Banana
So I just watched this video of terrified cats literally jumping out of their skin in fear of a cucumber that had been secretly placed behind them.
I know you’re saying Jason, isn’t this meant to be a productive blog, aren’t you meant to be leading by example?? Well, don’t judge me, judge my chimp instead! He made me turn my Facebook newsfeed eradicator off. The ape made me scroll!
In fact there’s 3 of me and we are constantly battling. Me, I’m the rational one, I like to plan and set big goals. I dream and move towards making them come true. I’m analytical and like to think with balanced opinions and make decisions based on truth, empathy and understanding from varied sources. I also like data, I collect a lot of it and I have to store all that somewhere. That place is the 2nd me, it’s called the parietal lobe which lives just behind the real me, also known as the frontal lobe.
This Parietal-lobe computer keeps making me stand up and walk towards the kettle when it’s boiling even though it was my housemate Ania who initiated the brew. She does the same when I switch the kettle on too. We both must like tea because this autopilot takes over and we accidentally set out in motion to pour each other’s water for our own, even though logically I know it’s not my tea time. Don’t blame me Ania, blame my P-lobe computer!
I’m pretty computer savvy by this point and when I put the work in I can reprogram a few problems in the system, both figuratively and literally! But where the battle always starts is when that little bastard ape that lives in my Limbic lobe lets himself out of his cage. There really is no shutting this highly emotional chimp down. Instead we need to learn to manage it.
Cue: Professor Steven Peters, (homeboy Sheffield represent) with his awesome book ‘The Chimp Paradox’.
Steven’s book is one of my new favourites. He explains all the science behind managing our 3 psychological minds; the human, chimp and computer, and does so in a relatable way that even a child (or me) can easily understand. He uses language like ‘feed your chimp bananas’, a metaphor for feeding your ego what it wants while negotiating your way around an issue instead of fighting with a much stronger primate than your logical self. I love it!
My chimp is a bloody emotional mess; it can’t help it, that’s what it does best. It’s impulsively in charge of sex, food, ego, dominating situations and territory. The limbic system has existed way before the human in all of us evolutionarily developed; so all messages and social interactions get filtered through that system first. Usually, if the chimp is not perceived to be under threat then the signals pass to the rational thinking human or pull actions from the autopilot computer to then proceed. In fact my chimps only true agenda is the protection and survival of the species. If it has to interrupt analytical thinking or program a few bad habits to make sense of it’s feelings and first impressions then so be it! Even if it’s being a menace. So think, on what level is communication coming from? Is it the chimp or the human?
With last weeks Paris bombings, we’ve obligatorily had a follow-up smear of propaganda from the tabloids. These papers know your chimp better than you do and often lead emotionally without allowing you to see the facts. If you looked harder you’d see a completely different narrative. So what are you seeing, are you emotionally reacting to the headlines or do you want to cage your chimp and see the truth.
In The Chimp Paradox Steven says our chimps aren’t all bad or all good, they’re just chimps and like a child, they need to be nurtured. You don’t say ‘no’ to a chimp it won’t listen, it will feel threatened and fight back. Your emotional brain works very much in the same way. You have to pat its head and say ‘yes but…’. Choose your self-talk carefully. Move from closed sentences like ‘I hate’ to ‘I don’t like what’s happened here BUT let’s find out more’. Do this many times so that it becomes automated, allowing your human side to win the primate race.
So what does this mean for us creative people? Well, when we see the cucumber we don’t need to jump like an animal that’s for sure. Whenever acting on emotion I need to be asking myself do I want to put the chimp back in the cage right now? Should I be doing some work instead? ‘Oh, I don’t feel like it’, well feelings are for chimps so crack on and do some work, yeah! Nearly everything I do now since reading this book, I’m analysing if this a decision I want to make or is it the chimp? If it’s the chimp, then what could I do to settle him and move on? My advice is read Chimp Paradox then go replace your newsfeed with feeding your creativity some bananas.