Tracy Winchell

A sure-fire way to keep your monkey mind from derailing work

published6 months ago
2 min read

Hey Reader,

I can’t believe I’m about to tell you this story. It’s kinda goofy.

It's a psychologically-sound practice that may help you if you need to quiet your monkey mind.

Six or seven years ago I had just lost my job. Self-confidence was at an all-time low.

Pretty quickly, I picked up a handful of clients who wanted me to consult with their organizations about public communications and marketing.

You’ve probably figured this out, but consulting is not a practical profession when one's self-confidence is a dumpster fire.

To top off the chaos in my brain, I was selling the 90+ year old Craftsman home I'd owned for 20 years.

I adore my mom, so moving in with her made sense. In fact, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

👋 Mama!

All these stressors were competing for attention.

It was nearly impossible to sit down and write up a proposal for a prospect or fulfill a plan of work agreement.

One day, anxiety was through the roof.

Out of frustration, I yelled to the yet-to-be-identified monkey mind.

"Go sit outside on the front porch swing and smoke a cigarette. I'm too dang busy to deal with you right now!"

The cigarette detail still gives me a chuckle.

The command, plus a few deep breaths, cleared my head enough that work was flowing from my fingers across a keyboard and keeping commitments to my clients.

Day after day, before I sat down to work, I repeated this command. Much more calmly than the first time.

Eventually, the command was less verbal. I pointed toward the front porch as soon as I sat down at my desk, with a one-word command:


Non-Southern U.S. readers, Git! is short for "Git on outta here. Now!"

This one-word command is quite effective out here in the country, especially when shooing a squirrel or a raccoon out of the bird feeders.

This seriously goofy ritual was working! Wut?

One day I dared to share this silliness with my BFF therapist friend.

👋 A!

She explained that I'd stumbled onto a valid psychological reframing method called externalization.

Whew. Relief came in a flood as she explained the concept. I was not crumbling under the stress of all the changes in my life.

I get to explain externalization to you now!

Forbes Magazine from a February 2020 issue offers the most useful explanation for externalization -- and how you can apply the concept immediately!

Excerpt begins now:

Think of your anxiety as an external force. Don't draw sweeping conclusions like, “I'm a nervous person.” Anxiety is a feeling, it's not who you are.
  1. Name your anxiety.
  2. Acknowledge the effect it has on you.
  3. Imagine yourself in a battle.
  4. Acknowledge your choices.

Excerpt ends here

Double-dog dare you to try this

Next time the dreaded monkey is racing through your brain, say (or type if you’re not alone) something like this:

🐒 I know you’re here, Monkey. Here's a banana, now go back to your cage. I'm busy!

Would love to hear if you give this a shot -- and whether or not it helped you!

💡 Would an outcomes-based public library of prompts interest you?

Of the millions of online words written about the why and how of journaling, very few offer solutions for a journaling technique to solve for Problem x.

In fact, I haven't found any tools like this!

So, I'm calling on all digital journals to reply to this email with:

  • Your digital tool of choice.
  • The most prevalent mindset, mental health, and habit frustrations you would like to improve.
  • Do you think an outcomes-centric public prompt library using your platform of choice might be useful?

The feedback you provide will be used for our March newsletter series.

Please do let me hear from LogSeq, Obsidian, and Roam community members!

Thank you for reading.

Be well.