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The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters

Whether it is making decisions or communicating with others, The Chimp Paradox uses a simple analogy to help us assess our own behaviour, take control of our emotions so we can act in our own best interests, by focusing on the long term and communicating better with others by adjusting the way that our brains take over and view the world around us.


Summary key points The Psychological Mind is made up of three separate brains: Human, Chimp and Computer. You are the Human. Your Chimp is an emotional thinking machine. Your Computer is a storage area and automatic functioning machine. Any one of them can take complete control but usually they work together.” Steve Peters


There are two competing forces in your brain – the prefontal cortex the ‘human’ part of our brain that acts rationally and the limbic system; our ‘inner chimp’ that bases its decisions purely on emotion. When the ‘wrong one’ takes charge it leads to problems so we need to start observing our own state of mind


We communicate in four distinct modes that determine how best to say what we want to say. It is difficult to second- guess how someone else is feeling so we tend to make assumptions which are often not accurate!


We can communicate human to human (our most rational mode), you can be in human mode but the person you are communicating with can be in chimp mode, you can be in chimp mode and the other person can be in rational human mode or you can both be in chimp mode and acting emotionally not rationally and is a scenario best avoided!!


We need to learn to explain our reasoning in a respectful manner and try and bring all participants back into rational human mode by addressing assumptions, problems, etc immediately.


Since our chimp brain always wants more, it can become an obstacle in our long-term happiness as it encourages us to chase an illusionary perfect state in which we can finally be happy but it doesn’t exist, so we need to learn to celebrate and appreciate our achievements as they come along and not just move on to the next step or challenge



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