The Chimp Paradox: Worksheets for Your Inner Chimp

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Chimp Paradox" by Steve Peters. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you looking for The Chimp Paradox worksheets to help you better understand the book? How can you use these exercises to recognize and control your inner Chimp? 

In The Chimp Paradox, Steve Peters offers advice for finding success, confidence, and happiness. This includes how to communicate effectively, how to manage stress, and what to do when your emotional Chimp is taking over. 

Keep reading for The Chimp Paradox worksheets, inspired by Steve Peters’ book. 

The Chimp Paradox: Worksheets

While reading The Chimp Paradox, worksheets can be used to apply the concepts to your own life. This approach makes sure you are getting the most from the book. 

In The Chimp Paradox, Steve Peters introduces his chimp management model. This theory suggests that everyone has a psychological Chimp, representing the emotional part of the brain. When things get out of hand, or you give in to emotional urges, this is usually down to your inner Chimp. Fortunately, you also have an inner Human to keep the Chimp in check. 

Read The Chimp Paradox worksheets below to find out more about the chimp management model and how it can be used to find happiness and success:  

Identify Your Chimp

When you have an immediate emotional reaction, you can recognize it as your Chimp (your emotional brain) by asking yourself if you want to feel this way. Use this The Chimp Paradox exercise to manage your inner Chimp:

  • Describe a recent situation in which you allowed your emotions to control your reaction to something that someone else said or did. How did their words or actions trigger you, and how did you respond? 
  • How did you feel afterward? Did you get the result you wanted from your reaction? Why or why not?
  • How could you have managed your Chimp better to allow your Human (your rational brain) to stay in control? 

Look for Gremlins 

A Gremlin is an unhelpful habit or belief. It’s possible to relearn or remove Gremlins from your Computer (your repository of habits of thoughts and beliefs) by replacing them with Autopilots (positive thoughts). A common Gremlin is unrealistic expectations, though which you set yourself up for disappointment with unachievable standards. If you want to remove some Gremlins and replace them with Autopilots, complete this The Chimp Paradox worksheet: 

  • Describe a time in either your professional or personal life when you held unrealistic expectations for someone else and were subsequently disappointed. (For example, did you expect a coworker to complete a project faster or better than she’d promised? Or expect a loved one to do something without being told?)
  • What were some more realistic expectations you could have programmed into your Computer that might have prevented you from feeling negative emotions when the other person didn’t live up to your standards? 

Use Human Mode

If you speak to someone else using your Chimp (emotional side), they will most likely respond with their Chimp. Try to speak to other people from your Human (rational side) to their Human, and leave your Chimps out of the conversation. If you want to improve your personal relationships, try this The Chimp Paradox worksheet: 

  • Think of a recent argument that you had in which your Chimp drove your words or actions. When you addressed the other person with your Chimp, how did her Chimp respond? 
  • How did your Chimp respond when her Chimp spoke to you? Were you able to prevent it from doing so? Why or why not? 
  • How could you have used your inner Human to better respond to the other person’s Chimp when it addressed you? 

Prepare for Acute Stress

By filling your Computer with positive Autopilots, you can prime it to override your Chimp’s negative reactions to sudden stress. If your aim is to have a positive mindset, this The Chimp Paradox worksheet is for you: 

  • Think of a potential stressful situation, either at work or in your personal life. Think of how you would expect yourself to normally react. (For example, imagine someone cuts in line at the supermarket. Would you typically react with a harsh response? Or would you say nothing because of a Gremlin or Goblin that tells you you’re not worth as much as they are?)
  • Think of how you could respond to the stressful situation in a way that controls your Chimp but still allows your Human to stand up for yourself. How can you be assertive but not aggressive? (In the above example, what could you say to the line-cutter to make it clear that her behavior isn’t acceptable, without letting your Chimp speak?)

Proactively Plan for Dysfunction

One area of your physical well-being is your nutrition. It’s easy to mismanage this area because your Chimp and your Human want different things. Follow this The Chimp Paradox exercise to improve your health: 

  • Describe a recent time when your Chimp wanted to indulge in something unhealthy while your Human knew you shouldn’t. (Did you crave a sugary snack or an extra glass of alcohol?) Which won out—your Chimp or your Human?
  • What is something you can do to proactively anticipate a similar conflict in the future? (Could you stock your fridge with healthier snacks, or resolve to stick to a plan of sparkling water after a certain number of alcoholic drinks?) 

Mentally Prepare for a Project

Both your Chimp and your Human must commit to a project if you’re going to successfully stick with it. If you think through what you’ll need for the project and what challenges you might face, you’re much more likely to stick with it. If you complete this The Chimp Paradox worksheet, you can become more proactive:

  • Describe a project you’re planning to take on. Make a list of everything you’ll need to be successful in that project. (This might include both physical items like office space or craft tools, and it might include intangible things like time.)
  • Now make a list of up to three challenges you anticipate facing as you move forward. (Include both short-term and long-term challenges.)
  • Write down how you plan to meet those challenges. What can you do to prevent them, or in response to them when they happen? Will you need additional resources to face them? (If so, add them to your first list.)

Face Your Fears

To prevent your Chimp from overreacting to perceived danger, confront your fears about risk. This The Chimp Paradox exercise will help you to overcome your fears: 

  • Make a list of some of your fears. These might be professional fears or personal fears. Don’t hold back—write down even irrational or silly ones. 
  • Explore these fears. Acknowledge them to your Chimp. Which ones are worth worrying about and which can you dismiss? 
  • How can you talk to your Chimp about these fears? What logic or reasoning can you explain that will put these fears into perspective or help you prepare for them? 
The Chimp Paradox: Worksheets for Your Inner Chimp

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Steve Peters's "The Chimp Paradox" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Chimp Paradox summary:

  • Why we struggle to control our urges, succumb to temptation, and sabotage our own success
  • How to manage your inner chimp to become happier, more balanced, and successful
  • Why your psychological world is like a solar system with 7 planets

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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