Monkey On Your Back?
Depression, procrastination, irritability, angry outbursts, and all forms of addiction are just a few examples of what I call “Monkeys”. There’s only one monkey mission and that’s to steal the joy from your life. If we’re not vigilant, monkeys suck the life out of us! If you have a monkey on your back, it’s a good thing that you’re here.
All Monkey Evil is Rooted in Fear and Shame
Irrational attitudes and behaviors swing hand-in-hand with monkeys and add to the turmoil in our lives, but these are only symptoms of our real problem. We often make the mistake of focusing on these surface reflections rather than on what’s bubbling underneath to cause them; the actual issue. Typically, the bubbling has something to do with fear and almost always, shame.
Dealing with fear and shame is vital if we are to become willing to learn new ways of coping and if we are to practice these new ways long enough to make changes that are permanent. It’s tempting, too, for those who counsel others, to swirl into sessions of continuous crisis management with clients, instead of getting to the bottom of things. This happens often and can go on for years, even decades, without clients seeing any improvement at all.
Crisis Management (Monkey Management) is Big Business
Today, more and more therapeutic approaches include reinforcing the self-pity of clients and calling this empathy, but it is, in fact, enabling. This is, of course, is to the detriment of the individual seeking help, but the toxicity also affects their spouses and children, their employers and employees, and inevitably leaks into society-at-large.
Millions of people seeking help are literally being coached into further helplessness and perceived victimhood, while professionals and practitioners continue to collect their fees.
Chances are, you have been to a support group or a counselor and have left that appointment feeling worse instead of better. At its best, your group or individual session might have you feeling a little more hopeful, but this vanishes within days. The reason for this is that dealing with things that are on the surface won’t produce real change. It’s the proverbial Band-Aid over a shotgun wound.
We All Have Monkey Issues
Don’t kid yourself, we all have them; these damn monkeys. If you claim to be monkey-free, especially after not having done much introspective work, well, that right there is probably a “monkey”. It might be a monkey disguised as a victim or maybe a monkey in a holier-than-thou costume! Monkeys use lots of disguises and costumes. That way they can fly under the radar. Nonetheless, that is still a monkey and he needs the boot!
I have yet to meet a person who has successfully confronted and ejected every monkey, and certainly, the process of being rid of even some of the might be nearly impossible without a little help.
Insight from The Wizard of Oz
It wasn’t completely intentional but, now you probably have a vivid picture of Dorothy and her buddies running for cover in the Haunted Forest, from the Wicked Witch of the West’s army of flying monkeys in the epic film The Wizard of Oz.
Are you picturing this?
Photo courtesy: Wizard of Oz; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Well, there’s plenty in that movie that has to do with just what I’m talking about here. Yes, I’m serious. If you haven’t seen the film, you may want to stop right here and return later to read on. I am not, of course, the first to make these parallels or write about them, but here is some of what I see in this film:
One Road; Many Paths
As the army of flying monkeys swooped down from the night sky, Dorothy and her friends scattered off in different directions, trying to get away. Even though they were all on the same yellow brick road, they all had their individual paths to follow to discover that they already had what they so desperately searched for. The friends were having separate experiences, but not in complete solitude. They didn’t journey alone and neither do we.
We All Could Use a Responsible Mentor
Dorothy was coached by Glenda, the Good Witch of the North. Did you notice at the beginning of the movie, while they were in Munchkin-land, that Glenda didn’t rescue Dorothy from her experience? She could have picked her right up and carried her back to Kansas in that giant bubble of hers, or she could have spilled the beans about the slippers Dorothy had on her feet. Dorothy could’ve tap-tap-tapped her way home right then! Could it be that Glenda didn’t tell Dorothy on purpose?
It took watching that movie several times before I suspected that Glenda was so very poised in her responses because she knew Dorothy had some growing up to do before she could go home. Making assumptions (about you, or people who are close to you) involves casting personal judgment and this behavior skews the objective lens of a therapist/coach who is to be in a neutral role. This isn’t helpful, but very, very harmful.
Therapists should never tell you what to do. Your coach’s job is to help you discover your personal power and illuminate your options.
We all have to learn and many of us learn the hard way. Sending Dorothy home prematurely wouldn’t have helped her, not to mention, it would’ve ruined the movie.
We Never Go Through It Alone
Dorothy and her traveling companions learned a lot about themselves from journeying with each other. Our relationships and interactions function as mirrors, teaching us things about our true selves. This view isn’t the natural way but takes skill to cultivate in order to identify and make use of these life lessons. Dorothy learned that she is not so helpless after all, but that she was capable of being a fearless leader. Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion were encouraged and uplifted by Dorothy’s optimism and inspired by her strength. So it is with us. We are refined by our relationships; we really never do it alone, although it may feel that way sometimes.
Even the Wicked Witch of the West had tons of support with her O-EEE-O castle guards, flying monkeys, and an all-knowing, all-seeing crystal ball. Sadly, even with what could be considered an advantage, the Wicked Witch of the West failed to learn a simple lesson:
When a wicked witch is killed by tornado and country home, it's first-come-first-serve when it comes to ruby slippers. Even if that dead witch happens to be your sister!
The Hardest Work Yields the Greatest Reward
It’s my observation that the Wizard himself experienced the most profound transformation and that he suffered in isolation long before he did. He only appeared to be entitled to such a grand residence. Narcissistic to the extreme, he was imprisoned in the Emerald Tower, although he would have you believe it was by his choice. The Wizard was definitely hiding.
Did you notice that he disguised himself as the gatekeeper of the Emerald Tower? This was undoubtedly a way for him to control who got close to him. That long and boisterous hallway was designed to discourage those who would even think of approaching him to question his authority. To prevent being challenged or overthrown, he used angry outbursts and tyrannical threats to wall-up on anyone who dared to call him out on his shortcomings; resistant to his very core.
The Wizard’s might was only as strong as his followers were large in number. To encourage their dependency, he pretended to have all the answers and the cure for whatever ailed them. As a result, his admirers willingly handed their personal power over to him, unsuspecting of his manipulating their emotions to supply his grandiose image of himself.
The Mighty Wizard of Oz orchestrated his grandiosity while concealing his fragility behind a curtain, and in doing so severed himself off from the rest of Oz; a metaphor for the rest of the world. Aside from his isolation and lack of peer accountability, what apparently killed him inside was that he knew he was a fraud and was horribly frightened that everyone would find out. His position of power not being real; he was held captive to his own lies.
Dorothy saved him. With her keen perception and annoying tenacity, she picked and poked at his inaccuracies and inconsistencies, uncovering the truth. The Wizard eventually caved into this and when he did, his true nature, which was compassionate, kind, and wise, had been revealed. Only after this process could he be of help to others without thought of what he might gain for himself. What an incredible change.
Dorothy did her own work and as a result, she changed into a mentor; a trustworthy confidant who helps you dissolve faulty core beliefs that poison your thinking, which poison your emotions and, in turn, poison your reactions to life. She ‘grew up’.
When we grow up, we can help other people.
It’s a proven fact: When our thoughts are less toxic, our whole life improves.
I’ve done life coaching sessions for nearly 15 years. I’ve coached adults, teens, and kids as young as five, in an office, on the phone, on the computer, even in the roller coaster line at Six Flags or at the grocery store. More and more, as time goes on, I am living what I do. This site was created to help as many people as possible. I do that by writing.
This world is full of people who are searching for the keys to having a fulfilling life; keys they already possess, (much like the Oz characters described above). My hope is that as you read and learn more, that you be inspired in the midst of your suffering until eventually, you discover that which is already within in you, that will help you live a happier life. You can find me here.
Being happy shouldn’t be so hard, but we all know that it is.
You have the power to create your own happiness. Yes, it’s true.
You already have everything you need to succeed within you.
Stop looking with-out and start searching within.
You are only moments away from freedom.
Get away from those monkeys and then tap your ruby slippers, baby.
Xo – Mia