This Thanksgiving, don’t smother the monkey…

Last Thursday, as we were driving to piano lessons, I asked Donovan how his pizza was today. You see, in our world, Thursday is pizza day. Our school runs a fundraiser, where every Thursday, you can have hot pizza delivered to your child. 

My kids think this is the best thing ever. They love to tell me about how good their pizza was. Every.Thursday. It’s a very important part of their day. 

This week, Donovan told me he got to be the pizza helper, which means he got to go to the office with his classmate and pick up the pizza, and hand it out to everyone else.

He told me that his classmates were not behaving very well as he and his classmate were handing out the pizza. They were all bunched together loudly demanding their pizza. 

He said he had felt really upset, and tried to hold his feelings in so he didn’t yell at them. 

This caught my attention because I recognized my tendency to do the same. You know, Elsa style, “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know….well now they knoooooow.”

My heart went out to him. He’s trying so hard to be good, yet what’s a person to do when other people are pushing and demanding and overall just behaving in ways that you feel upset over? 

So, I talked to him about how we each have a monkey in our brain. Our monkey tends to freak out over other people’s behaviour. When we try to hold down our emotions, it’s like putting a pillow over the monkey’s head. It just makes the monkey freak out more, and when the monkey gets free of the pillow, it’s even more enraged.

I get why we do this. We think if we don’t stop the monkey’s freak out, then WE will freak out. We’ll start shouting, throwing things, maybe shoving people, or say things we’ll regret. We think if we can shut the monkey up, we’ll behave better.

But as we can see, it just makes things worse. Sooner or later, the monkey is going to get free and really go crazy.

A different choice is to just notice the monkey freaking out. When he’s freaking out, how does it feel in our body? Maybe your heart races, or your muscles all tense up. Perhaps you feel like you’re getting a headache, or your arms feel tingly. 

Did you know you can let your monkey freak out and not react yourself? You can feel really really angry, and not push it down, and also not react to it. You can just feel it in your body. I know this is not news to some people, but it was mind-blowing when it first clicked for me.

Take deep breaths and relax your shoulders. Relax your jaw. Relax your stomach. As you relax, the monkey will calm down.

When the monkey is a little calmer (when you really do relax into it, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes), talk to your monkey. Reassure him that you will take care of him. Let him know, that no matter what anyone else thinks, you love him. Listen to what he’s scared about, or upset about. He needs someone to take care of him, to listen, and that someone is you.

In the end, Donovan said he’d rather smother his monkey than reassure him. haha That’s always an option, too. Just know it’s not the only option (or the best option, in my opinion).

So, if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, and your monkey starts to freak out, because they like to do that when we’re around other people, decide what you want to do. Do you want to smother your monkey, knowing he’ll get more worked up and outraged, or do you want to give him space to calm down, and then reassure him that you are going to take care of him?

It’s totally up to you!

Happy Thanksgiving!


P.S. If you want more details on how to apply this to your specific situation, be sure to sign up for a FREE One-on-one Consultation. It’s totally free video chat, online, so you don’t even have to get a babysitter. It’s just me and you, having a conversation about any relationship, or any area of your life you’d like to improve. I will give you a personalized plan to help you feel better now. Sign-up today!