Academy for Wayward Authors: Caging the Indecisive Monkey Mind to Boost Productivity

Caging the monkey mind

Lizard brain, monkey mind. There are all kinds of ways to frame how your brain works.

There is the evolutionary piece that has taken billions of years to get us to the current iteration of the nervous system, and then there is how you have been conditioned in your lifetime. These two states drive 85% of your conscious thought.

The term “lizard brain” is commonly used to talk about the parts of our brain that run in the background and operate unconsciously. We are very complicated organisms made up of interconnected systems that need to sync up for us to survive. In any one organ, there are billions of cells, all working individually and as a group to do the job they evolved to do.

We can take it another layer and talk about the trillions of organisms in the microbiomes of your skin and digestive tract that help to keep you healthy and, when out of sync, can make you ill or kill you. Early research is being done to identify the connection between the microbiota of your gut and long-term mental health.

Scientists have already proven that the bulk of serotonin production is in the gut and that the vagus nerve is a primordial connection between the brain and the digestive tract. This connection is you “getting a gut feeling.”

Much of our fight-or-flight reaction is driven through this system. It reacts before you have a chance to think logically.

Look up from this article, look out a window, and try to see the farthest you can from where you are.

Just from the input of light to your eyes, you infer distance.

Cognitively, you could estimate with some accuracy what that distance is.

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The crazy thing is your certainty about distance and movement with low-fidelity information. Sure, you get a lot of input, but your brain filters and interprets that information. Then, you apply meaning to what filters through. If something suddenly flew into view, you would process it and react before you consciously could assess what startled you. That’s the lizard brain.

Then there is the mammalian brain, the predictive engine that focuses on our survival. It is instinctual and associated with our feelings. It is amazing how much it interprets and infers.

Some scientists refer to this as your default mode network (DMN). The deeply ingrained patterns that you base your perception of reality upon.

The default mode network can easily be triggered into what the Buddhists call “the monkey mind.” What the Buddhists mean when they talk of the monkey mind/heart is the unsettled, restless, capricious, whimsical, fanciful, inconstant, confused, indecisive, uncontrollable thoughts that trap us in a downward spiral of thoughts and feelings.

On top of all of this is how you have been indoctrinated.

If you followed season two, you know how easily others can influence the mind. Our parents, government, religion, and education all want to influence how we construct our pseudo-environments.

Everything is a construct built on and influencing your default mode network, making you follow the same habits and thoughts for most of your life.

Is that system the best system for you to succeed as an author?

As we go through the “designing you track,” think about the material in two ways.

First, consider how it applies to you and makes you a better creator. Then, reflect on how some of the ideas can be integrated into your marketing system to influence your reader’s pseudo-environment.

A large part of DMN thinking is what we associate with the self, but the reality is that if you pause and take the time to become aware, you can observe the thoughts that are the DMN, so the you that observes is not those thoughts. Therefore, it is not you.

Deep—I know!

Descartes was wrong. It is not “I think; therefore, I am.” It is “I can observe my thoughts; therefore, I exist, and I exist outside of these thoughts.”

Knowing this, we can immediately divorce ourselves, if only for a moment, from that crazy monkey mind that drives our lives from time to time.

The monkey mind disrupts your best-laid plans.

It defaults you into a cycle of feelings and thinking. You can immediately disrupt this harried state by becoming aware that you are in it, and it’s not you.

While an event or circumstance may trigger you, that’s not an excuse to continue to be triggered by it. It’s in the act of taking responsibility that you send the monkey mind back to its cage.

I recently removed TikTok from my phone. Not because I was worried about the Chinese government reading my emails, but because I was falling into the endless scroll.

That scrolling is a hook into our lizard brain’s sensitivity to the new and unique—millions of years of programming seek to react to the novel and evaluate if it is a danger.

The doom scroll is a surrogate for curiosity and identification of environmental changes. I observed how my DMN, when bored, would go to get a jolt of scrolling, so there was a change in my field of view.

None of that was helping me be a better person or be more productive.

If I wanted that out of my life and not to be an issue, it meant deleting the app.

“But won’t that hurt your business, not being connected to the fastest-growing social media platform?”


Or I can say it’s not for me to have it on my phone. What I was doing wasn’t helping my business, customers, or personal improvement.

If my business needs it, I’ll hire someone to deal with it.

I also believe those precious minutes build up into hours and days that would be better spent researching and writing.

My original content has more value to you and me than that time used on TikTok.

When I win back that time, I can use it to reprogram my default mode network.

Regardless of what past circumstances programmed me to do what I do, I can take responsibility to become a better me.

Boosting your productivity

To that end, I added a new app to my phone.

I’ve begun using this tool to rewire my brain and to create a new default mode network that isn’t easily triggered to let the monkey mind out of the cage.

And when it does get the cage open, I can see it’s out and get him back in.

I hope this may be the most important link you will ever click.

I get no affiliate fee or kickback when you click this link.

I’m giving this to you as a friend who wants you to get what I’ve gotten from using this app.

I reached out to Liam and his team, and this is what I received back within 24 hours.

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This link will get you the first 30 days for free. The owner, Liam, also offers to give you the full app for free if you can’t pay.

But after using it for a week, I found that it’s worth every penny.

If the monkey mind is out of his cage and disrupting you and your business, then use the FitMind app every day to cage the beast.

The work you do daily following the program will rewire your brain the way you want it to be wired, not how others want you to think and feel.

It will create the space and discipline you seek to do the work we will be doing in the coming months.

Over the next few articles, I’ll be talking about how we can redesign your mind. Too often, you’re told you have to change your mindset, but you’re never given the method to change it.

Platitudes won’t break down and restructure your default mode network. The work defined in the app will.

Next week, we will dive into you as a system. All of this personal focus is designed to get you where you want to be as a writer and business owner.

Read: Unlock the Silent Giant Within Through Mental Fitness