Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

Coaching Your Inner Monkey: Tips for Talking Yourself into Greatness

By Lisa Bull, VP of Employee and Leadership Learning, Ceridian

Psychologists often refer to it as ‘self talk’. You might have also heard the terms ‘inner dialogues’ or ‘limiting beliefs’. In Buddhism, it’s called ‘monkey mind’. All of these terms refer to the running play-by-play that is going on inside of all of our heads – the on-going chatter that impacts the way in which we think and feel everyday. I particularly like the notion of ‘monkey mind’ because it’s easy for me to imagine the little monkey which perches on my shoulder and offers opinions on most everything I do. Like many people, my inner chatter is sometimes critical and often has me question or doubt my behavior and the actions that I take. But the really great news is that we all are ‘in charge’ of our self-talk and, with focus and practice we can learn to coach our inner monkeys and begin to change that self-talk into affirming, optimistic and helpful messaging.

  1. Notice the chatter – the first step towards changing how we talk to ourselves is to begin to notice the on-going chatter. We all do it, so don’t worry that you’re the only one who “talks” to themselves! Once you become aware of the kinds of stories that you are telling yourself it becomes much easier to change those stories.
  2. Don’t judge your stories – once you’ve started paying attention to how you talk to yourself you may find yourself becoming frustrated with the stories you’re telling. You may even be tempted to beat yourself up for being so negative! The key is to be kind to yourself. Keep in mind that you have had a lifetime of your stories – messaging you’ve learned from your family, school, the media. Just notice how you’re talking to yourself, how often you’re delivering messages to yourself and how you feel when talk to yourself.
  3. Begin coaching your ‘monkey’ – once you’ve noticed how you’re talking to yourself and you can recognize the impact of how your stories make you feel, you can begin the work of managing your monkey! You are in control of what you think and you can begin to stop the thoughts/stories which are negative and unproductive and replace them with more optimistic and helpful thoughts. It can be as simple as noticing a negative thought, saying “NO! I’m not going to think that way” , and instead shifting to a different, more empowering way of thinking. Remember – your ‘monkey’ has been telling the same kinds of stories for a long time, so the process of changing your thoughts does take some time and practice. Stick with it – not only will your thoughts change, but you will feel different too!

If you’d like to learn more strategies for changing your self talk, please join Cindy Matalamaki and myself at Ceridian’s INSIGHTS Conference this July 12-18 at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas. We’ll be presenting a workshop entitled “Coaching Your Inner Monkey: Tips for Talking Yourself into Greatness!” and we’d love to have you join us. Visit to register!

Lisa Bull 2Lisa Bull is Vice President, Employee and Leadership Learning at Ceridian. As an experienced corporate training specialist Lisa has delivered training to hundreds of clients across Canada and has designed and developed customized training programs for a wide variety of corporate, government and not-for-profit organizations. Lisa currently leads Ceridian’s North American Employee and Leadership Learning Team and oversees all Leadership Training Programs and the Talent Excellence Program. In addition to the development and design of these Programs, Lisa shares responsibility for Ceridian’s On-Boarding Program and mentorship initiatives. As a manager, Lisa has worked in broadcast communications, organizational safety and Employee Assistance Programs. Lisa has a Diploma in Broadcast Communications, a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Masters of Education in Educational Psychology.

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