The ploys of the distraction monkey

Remember those high school or college days when you were given an assignment weeks in advance and just couldn’t quite figure out how to manage your time to avoid cramming everything into an all-nighter in the final hours? Maybe you received the instructions for the paper or the upcoming exam and thought, “Whew, I have plenty of time for this. It’ll just take a little bit of effort every day and I’ll ace this thing!”

So then what happened? Some of you were possibly very disciplined and managed to follow through with this genius plan. Well, a handful of you, maybe? Many of us, however, likely had our minds infiltrated by the distraction monkey very soon after we concocted our well meaning plan to devote daily effort to the assignment. 

The distraction monkey is an impetuous, shallow little thing who constantly seeks to divert our attention from the big stuff. To distract us from the really important work, he likes to have fun and play even when it’s not time for fun and play. And, unfortunately when we succumb to these distractions at the wrong times, that leisure can often be riddled by guilt, dread, anxiety or self-hatred. If the free time isn’t earned then it’s not truly free. And that fun and play doesn’t actually feel like fun and play.


Stick with me here. And please know that I LOVE fun and play and that the playful monkey is simply a metaphor…

When I wrote of striving and over-efforting last week I was referring to one manifestation of the playful, distraction monkey. One way in which we distract ourselves from the ultimate task. The task of resting in our stillness to uncover the best versions of ourselves. Busyness is one of many ploys of the distraction monkey. 

// Maybe busyness isn’t your monkey’s ruse of choice. Maybe he prefers to suck you into the political unraveling taking place in our country, pulling you into the drama of all that’s out there in order to avoid what’s going on right here.

// Maybe he drags you into the kitchen again and again to excessively munch on “healthy” snacks. After all, after years of perfecting your diet in an effort to heal, you wouldn’t dare eat junk food. So, you overindulge in what you CAN eat. (Guilty as charged). 

// Or maybe he likes to numb your mind with Facebook feeds and Youtube videos. Maybe more “mainstream” addictions like alcohol or drugs are his distraction of choice. 

// And, maybe, continuing to hide behind your illness and all that goes along with the safety of this identity is the distraction he chooses to help you avoid facing the reality of yourself. 

Introspection, like the college exam, can seem like a far off goal. Actually though, without a solid deadline, embarking on this mind-body work likely has very little sense of urgency attached to it. We have all the time in the world - or at least a lifetime - to do this “work”. A little journaling or meditating or resting every day may seem like a great plan at first, but when it gets down to it the distraction monkey never ceases to rear his playful little head. As you begin to notice his latest ploy just ask yourself, “What am I waiting for?” 

What’s really holding you back from taking the next step in restoring your health? You may have a lifetime to figure it out and no set deadline, but wouldn’t you rather reap the rewards of getting to the other side of your health journey and settling into a place of joy for as much of this precious life as you can?

THIS WEEK: See if you can begin to simply notice your distraction monkey’s favorite ploys. What happens to disrupt your plans to sit in stillness. Where does your monkey take you?
Awareness is the first step.