The Chimp Paradox

The Chimp ParadoxThe Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters isn’t classified as a business book and it won’t magically reveal what new direction to take your career in. Instead it falls under the self-development category, which is an excellent starting point. Fully understanding yourself is the first port of call on the journey to a more fulfilling career.

If you beat yourself up asking why you worry so much about what others think, why you have low self-esteem, struggle with your anger, feel so anxious all the time or even why you overeat, this book will explain the reasons behind those thoughts, and many other common concerns. Armed with the understanding of why these things happen, you can learn how to manage them.

Prof Steve Peters explains in simplified, non-medical terms, three core components in our brain, which each serve a purpose and have a different functionality:

  1. “The Computer stores information that…has [been] put into it. It then uses this information to act…in an automatic way or it can serve as a reference point.” Also known as the parietal brain.
  2. “The Human is you [your true self], interpreting information by searching for facts and establishing truth, then uses logical thinking to form a plan.” Also known as the frontal brain.
  3. “The Chimp is an emotional machine, that thinks independently from us…given to you at birth… it interprets information with feelings and impressions, then uses emotional thinking to establish what’s happening and form a plan.” Also known as the limbic brain.

Our Human brains behave rationally and logically, based on facts and truth. For example: ‘I am going to apply for this job that’s welcoming applications, because I have some transferable experience to offer, I’ll be able to convey my interest in the employer and value I’ll bring to the team. I hope to be offered an interview but I won’t get ahead of myself.’

Our Chimps operate emotionally by default, so jump to unfair and defensive conclusions by making assumptions often based on hunches or paranoid feelings. For example: ‘What’s the point of applying for that job? There must be hundreds of others who have gone for it and I’m not good enough so I’ll never get to interview stage. I’m stupid and will never succeed.’

For some people, it feels like the Chimp has far greater weighting than the Human brain. And for others, past traumas or unpleasant experiences have been hard-wired into our Computer, which then hold us back from moving forward in a positive direction when making decisions and interpreting new information.

This book is enlightening and powerful: it cannot be recommend enough.