‘Shall we go outside and clear the air?’ I could tell by the look on his face that that was unlikely to happen. A knot twisted in my stomach as we left the cool stone barn and stepped out onto a country lane in the depths of the North York Moors. Around us, steep green fields rose, shrouded in cloud at their peaks. It was the end of an arduous day supporting my partner’s sister who was in the process of completing the Coast to Coast walk. One hundred and ninety two miles of chaotic and underprepared for walking. Well, that’s how my partner viewed it and his chimp had certainly had enough! For them it was day twelve and for us day three. We thought we were going to help them carry their kit and enjoy a few days walking. What we didn’t realise was that the main emphasis for us would be the supporting, rather than enjoying the walking. Not a recipe for success!
Unfortunately for me, my partner’s chimp becomes very controlling in what he views as his domain – leading outdoor adventurous activities. And when things are not as efficient as they could be, he takes over. The problem was, his sister didn’t want his help or advice, which for my partner’s chimp was insulted. Her chimp thought he was controlling to the point of suffocation! My chimp partly agreed – see my post ‘I canoe Can You’.
Out on the country lane I attempted to ‘exercise’ my partner’s chimp. In the chapter, The Divided Planet, there is advice on how to manage your chimp, and part of good management is to exercise it:
- Take your chimp to a locked compound. In my case, this was away from the barn and my partner’s sister and further down the secluded lane.
- Let it all out – I told my partner to do this. He has also read the book and believes in its philosophy. He ran up the lane and back and screamed out his frustrations, knowing that some of them were unreasonable and possibly ridiculous.
- Listen to the chimp for as long as it takes – I remained fairly quiet which was challenging.
- Don’t comment – frankly impossible! Or I chose to ignore the nonsense and focus on the root of the problem.
What was really hard was to keep my chimp in its cage and only let my human me deal with him. To look at my partner’s chimp objectively and not feel upset or insulted was very hard. To express myself unemotionally and to put forward other people’s points of view was hard too. However, the physical act of running up the road literally tired out the chimp and he was able to be talked to using facts, truth and logic. This reasoning is called ‘boxing the chimp’.
I don’t think I was entirely unemotional or selfless but I did give it a good try and I’m proud of myself for not falling into an argument which would have left us both feeling bad. Things calmed down after that. That is until, the following evening when my partner’s sister melted my walking boots on top of the log burner. A tale worthy of another blog entry I’m sure!