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Grab a chair and sit

A monkey eating and looking straight at the camera
19:00 | June 28, 2020

Grab a chair and sit

A new way on how to understanding and controlling emotions

Hi beautiful soul, I got a beautiful new inspiration today. Hope you enjoy it!

Emotions are weird things. They trick us into doing things we don’t want. As well as make us scared or angry. Yet they are part of this human experience and there is something we can learn from them. Controlling emotions might be something you want to learn, but I can tell you controlling them won’t solve anything. It will only make things worse. You don’t want to cage a wild monkey. The chair method is one that might just help you understand your emotions better. It is simple and easy to understand.

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Your emotions are weird things. Almost like little rascals running around wild in your head. My favorite analogy is with our closest relatives, the monkeys. Monkeys are wild, obnoxious, loud, and all over the place. They scream at one another then suddenly decide to climb up a tree and swing on some branch. Then go down again and smack their rival in the face. After which a fight starts and more loud noises are produced and chaos is everywhere. Still, I’ve always loved monkeys. They are weird, unpredictable, funny, and act the same as we do in a lot of ways. 

A few weeks back I was at the zoo. On my own, with my camera to take some photos of animals. I just love to photograph animals, it makes me relax and slow down to their speed. Now the monkeys are always interesting to watch and I am not the only one thinking that. There is a crowd leaning on the fence almost all the time. Watching them, laughing when they do silly things and trying to get their kids to stop crying. These animals are always interesting to watch, because they aren’t that lazy as let’s say, the lions. These are hunting animals who rest a lot of the day and then only ones or twice a day go out and hunt. In the zoo they can’t of course so, they are resting almost the entire day. Now the monkeys move throughout the entire day. There is always something to see. Always something to do or try. That is why I think they are the perfect symbolism for our emotions. 

Jawning Pandabear
Photo by Daan Uijterwaal

The obnoxious monkey

Your brain is just like a monkey. It’s not something new, a lot of people have heard this analogy. Yet never understood how they could use it. Controlling your emotions is something we like. We would love to take control of our emotions just so we can be productive and energetic at work, feel the love with our partner, happiness with friends, and pumped when exercising. Yet a lot of the time the coin ends up on the other side. Making us stressed at work, therefore annoyed with our partner, unpleasant with friends and too lazy to exercise. So we seek a way to control our emotions so the coin always falls on the right side. 

We suppress them and try to tell ourselves that we should be happy. Confirmation in front of the mirror, awkward smiling, and addictive behaviors are just a few of the things we do to change how we feel. We all want to live a happier life after all. The key here is with the monkeys. Yes, we can learn from our ancestors. No, we shouldn’t run around like crazy, swinging on branches and smacking one another in the face to show our strength. No, we can learn from them by understanding their behavior and seeing the link with our minds. Monkeys don’t care. They run around all the time and are all over the place. Except when they sleep or are fed. Then they are perfectly relaxed, peeling their fruits, eating nuts or plants. They are fully focused on the food because they have to focus on how to get to the food first. They need to peel off the banana peel. Open up the nuts or find a way to get ants out of an ant hole. 

Your emotions are just like these monkeys. All over the place, loud, obnoxious, and in your face. If something triggers them they smack you in the face to let you know they are there. Then a few minutes later it is occupied with food. Another moment you feel in love with someone. Which is quickly followed by pain because she or he declined your invitation to a diner. So the cycle goes on. One after the other emotion arises throughout the day, week, month, year, and eventually your entire life. You can’t get rid of them. Just the same as we should not get rid of all monkeys on the planet. That would, one: be crude, and two: be disastrous for the environments they live in. If you put it this way, it suddenly isn’t all that hard to understand why we can’t control or get rid of our emotions. Isn’t it? Just a simple comparison between monkeys and your emotions can do wonders. That’s also a part of the brain, understanding things. The only way a human brain can make sense of things is through comparison to what it already knows. Monkeys work the same way. The copy one another to learn new skills or behavior. So could you. 

Photo by Daan Uijterwaal

Grab a chair and sit down

Even though you might now understand how your emotions work, you still don’t understand how to work with them. It still is uncomfortable to have a lack of energy when you have to work or feel angry with your loved one. After all, you don’t want to be angry with them. It is just something that happened and you can’t control that. The first thing to understand is that by grabbing a monkey and forcefully holding it will only make the monkey go wilder. We have all seen the videos of monkeys in small cages banging the bars or running around. That’s something we should try to avoid. To not put our emotions into cages. Trying to hold them in. If you put a monkey in a cage to calm them down, they will only scream louder. Your emotions work the same way. By putting them in a cage, so you can control them, you only make the problem worse. They start to get louder and in the end, they will burst out or brake the cage. Now what? You are overwhelmed and by that, you feel horrible. 

That’s why I want to give you some advice on this. Grab a chair. One that is large enough for your monkey to sit on. Of course, this is figurative. There is no need to grab a real chair if there ain’t a real monkey in your house. The chair is meant for your monkey mind. For your emotions running everywhere. It will help to get your emotions in ‘control’. Now place that chair somewhere in your head where you think it looks nice and stylish. Allow your emotions, as they arise, to sit on it. Once they sit down let them sit for as long as they like. As well as let them leave the moment they want to leave. Just as allowing them to come when they want to come. Just keep in mind that you can just handle one at a time. After all, there is one chair to sit on. After a while, the emotions get used to this. Sitting there and just being. They don’t need to run around anymore to get your attention. They start to quiet down, slow down, and feel loved and recognized. That is all you have to do if you want to control your emotions. 

Controlling your emotions isn’t about deciding when you want to feel something. It is about allowing the emotions that arise to just be there. To not have to scream for your attention. You’ll see that emotions like anger, sadness, or fear will leave quite soon. All they needed is someone to give them attention. Someone that allowed them to be themselves. You wouldn’t like to be ignored or forced to change just because someone doesn’t like you right? So don’t do the same to your emotions. It’s sad for them. They just want to warn you or express their worries about you. Then you can just tell them it is all okay and keep going. You will see that happiness will enter the room and sit on the chair instead. That doesn’t mean the others will never come back. They just don’t stay that long. 

Pushing out anger

Now for the real-life stuff, what does that mean? Okay for example you get angry with someone. Instead of trying to control your anger and push it away, allow it to be there with you. No that doesn’t mean you should hit the other, again like the monkey smacks the other in the face. No, it just means allowing the anger to be there. The hardest part here is to not act upon the anger. Your best option is to simply tell the other you are angry and that you need some time to process it. That’s all. Than anger feels heard and after a while, it leaves. It will only stay a while if it has already been pushed away many times. Because then the anger nestled within you, rooting itself as firm as possible. Hoping to get some attention. Yet you never gave it to him and pushed him away. Sad anger. He only wanted to be heard.

Two emotions one chair

Just one more example. You feel distracted and unfocused. Yet you have a deadline in the upcoming week. Whether that is for school or work doesn’t matter. There is a deadline just around the corner. Now that deadline kinda scares you and makes you feel fearful. That is the first emotion to allow in. Allow it to sit on the chair and give it some attention. Just before letting in distraction. You see what I normally did with these cases was both let in fear and distraction at the very same time. Only there was just one chair so they were fighting over it. So my emotions would go from fear for the deadline to unfocused because I felt fear, to fear again, and so on. Allowing two emotions in your brain at the same time can become stressful. Yet it sometimes happens and that is just the way life is. I want you to understand that all I just said is something that won’t be perfect. It never will. You will not always be so focused on the chair method. You at times forget it and push some emotions away or allow multiple to come in at ones. That’s just fine. Don’t blame yourself for it, because blame is an emotion as well. Just start over. Grab the chair and make your emotions sit down again. There is no one golden ticket to this. It needs practice and understanding that you can’t be perfect. Just remember that you are doing fine, that you are doing your best to make all your emotions feel loved. That you are doing your best to control them. 

So next time you realize two emotions are in at the same time. Ask one to just wait outside for a minute. Then focus on one emotion and when that emotion is fulfilled and leaves. You can let in the other one. If you feel distracted and fearful at the same time. First, allow fear to sit on the chair. Let is speak and comfort it. Then let distraction come into the room. It will see that the thing that made him come in the first place, which was fear, has left. So there is no need for him to be there and he almost instantly leaves. Then you are left with yourself and you can focus on your deadline again. 

These things take some time. Some emotions take longer to leave and that is all completely fine. It’s more about understanding these emotions and comforting them instead of trying to go through them as quickly as possible. After all, emotions are what make us human. That connects us and they are here for us to learn from. 

If you liked hearing about emotions, it is something I am really into you should for sure keep on eye on the blog. I will be sharing more about emotions as long as I keep writing. You can keep up with the blog by either subscribing to the email list, which automatically gives you a free gratitude calendar or you can follow me over on Instagram or Pinterest. I’ll let you know when a new post is up over there. I want to thank you for reading or listening and if you love it feel free to share it with others. For now, thank you don’t forget to grow and experience life. Remember that Today You Lived!

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About me

Today I lived is a three word quote that reminds me and you to live. To enjoy this life and look for the sunshine in your day! Cause “beauty is everywhere”