Dr. Todd Sheppard Blog

The Chimp Paradox

The Mind Management Program

By Steve Peters MD

Book Review

All elite athletes talk about being the ‘the zone’. Is it possible to put yourself in ‘the zone’ at will or is it something that just happens? What is happening in your brain when you are preforming at your highest level? On the other side of the coin, have you ever felt a lot of anxiety in a situation when you weren’t in any danger? Maybe your heart starts racing when you walk into a dental office? Is it possible to control your feelings in difficult or unusual situations? Why is so difficult to control out thoughts and emotions when we are stressed?

These are the questions that have studied and answered by British Psychiatrist Steve Peters. Dr. Peter’s career has been very interesting. Initially, he worked with seriously mentally ill patients at a maximum security facility, now he works with some of the world’s best athletes.

Even though he doesn’t even watch sports on television, he was tapped to help coach the British Olympic cycling team. He was widely credited by the athletes themselves for being the reason why they had a record medal haul at the Beijing Olympic Games. Dr. Peters believes that being in control of your emotions is the difference between winning and losing. He can be seen at the sidelines of sporting events helping the competitors go through a five stage mental warm up along with their physical warm up. After all, many Olympic athletes have been preparing much of their lives for an event that can be over in just a matter of minutes or seconds.

Steve Peters uses metaphors such as the ‘chimp brain’ and the ‘human brain’ when he explains the reasons for how we act and feel. He believes being in control of your ‘chimp brain’ and knowing how to calm the chimp down is critical for success in all areas of life. We have all had the experience of our ‘chimp brain’ hijacking our emotions and making us do or say things that we regret later. We all know it is impossible to perform at our best when we are crippled with anxieties and negative self-talk.

For those that are interested, Dr. Peters backs up all his breezy metaphors with hard science. He wrote this book after the medical students he was teaching urged him to share his easy to understand knowledge with everyone. Thank goodness he did. Read the book and benefit from the same advice that won Olympic Gold Medals.

The Chimp Paradox is easy and fun to read book with lots of ‘a-ha’ moments. It provides models and exercises that will help you understand why you do-the-things- you -do. It will help you make simple, yet profound, changes that will improve your daily life and ultimately bring you long term success.

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