Got a monkey on your back?

monkey-on-your-backYou say you don’t have a monkey on your back? If that is so, then you are one in a billion:

We all have a monkey on our back… one or more. 1 The monkey is often invisible to us, and unless someone else looks for it observing you, or you accidentally stumble on it, that monkey is influencing you in everything in life.

So what is the monkey… really?

It is that famous ‘I didn’t know that I didn’t know‘. 2

If the monkey on your back is really part of the ‘you didn’t know that you didn’t know’, then it is OUTSIDE of what you know that you know, and outside of what you know that you don’t know. For the most part even when people talk about it, it doesn’t register as valuable information…

Most people, when I ask them a question, they start to look in what they know… And where do you store that? In your mind.

But I almost never ask a question in my classes that you know the answer of. I want you to look… So going to the mind is trying to find your keys under the lamppost… not where they are.

This is a typical action for a normal human… they assume that they already know the answer…

What can you do instead? Use ‘inductive’ behavior.

Inductive? I had to look up the word too… it simply means look wider or look deeper… but beyond the area of what you know you know.

In my feeling, a few capacities contribute to the ability to look and see wider and deeper:

  • awareness
  • astuteness: meaning you actually see accurately what is in front of you
  • your cone of vision… so you can see wider
  • your ability to hold ideas, image in your brain while you are looking wider… so you don’t for get what you are looking for
  • curiosity,
  • Your mental toughness aka your TLB. In fact your TLB is the most accurate predictor of your success in life.
  • effective hate… yes, it is a capacity! hating how it is enough to make an effort.

If you  don’t have enough hate, if you are OK with settling for what is close enough, or similar enough, or who cares… you won’t do well in this arena, and, in my experience, even if and when someone points it out for you, you won’t actually get it… you’ll prefer your own inaccurate and narrow view to theirs.

monkey off your backI have had students like that… And to my amazement, they kept on coming back.

You know the effects of the monkey on your back, but you don’t know why it is there, you don’t know what you can do about it, and so you try this and you try that, you avoid this and you avoid that… but all that effort doesn’t get the monkey off your back.

Until you actually see what it is that you don’t know that you don’t know, i.e. somehow you make the invisible visible, you are in fixing mode. As I have said before…

…the fix of any problem is the next, bigger problem.

We could also say that a fix is not the same as a solution. A fix, the need to fix, the want to fix, the should fix is the result of something looking like it’s wrong. Solutions, on the other hand answer the how question, mathematical problems are a good example.

Wrong is created by words. In fact there is never anything wrong in reality… without someone saying: it’s wrong, wrong would not exist.

In this article we’ll look at a different way of looking at things, so you can start seeing things not as wrong but closer to how they are, and then take effective action to make it all better. Improve it. Instead of fixing it.

If there is nothing wrong, then there is nothing to fix: fixing will become a non-issue.

So let us look what is that monkey on your back… Oh, the biggest monkey was that you say something is wrong… and that is a big monkey. But it’s not the only monkey you have, although it may be at the root of all the monkeys.

Huge monkey: think positive… avoid negativity

The only thing that produces result is what you do… i.e. action. Your thoughts matter, but only to the extent that they influence what you do.

I know some people (many?) teach that your thoughts create stuff… but what they don’t say is how, when, why, and when not: why not?

They also don’t clarify what is thought… if you mess something up and say: ‘you are an idiot!’: did you just had a thought that now creates reality?

This widespread lack of distinction has infected humanity for about 125 years now… and is causing humans to degenerate… devolve… and become less human, less productive, less intelligent.

In this article I will endeavor to address some of the missing distinctions.

You won’t like it, but between you and me, to get from misery to joyful, you will need to swallow a few bitter pills… that is how it works. The more willing you are to swallow the bitter pills the further you can go.

And, between you and me, that is the first secret that they don’t convey to you: living with your eyes open, being able to remain calm and collected while you look at bad, unpleasant, threatening stuff is the secret of people who are reasonably happy, powerful, and effective in life.

If you follow: don’t allow negative thought in your mind, you are on the wrong path: you are working against happy, powerful, and effective life.

Why is it a bad practice to block out negative, i.e. non-pleasing thoughts, events, ideas, images?

Many reasons. Here are a few:

When you block out what you don’t like to see, the primary symptom of a low TLB aka mental toughness, your integrity is also low. But, bummer, without integrity life doesn’t work. How well does your life work?

First: let’s look at what we mean by life working?

If you look at different areas of your life, you can rate the level of workability, the level of satisfaction, the level of friction, the level of fulfillment in each one…

Look at these areas:

  • 1. your health. How healthy are you? To what degree are you able to do things: you would like to do, what you need to do well enough and fast enough?

If you had to run from a flood: could you reach a hill a mile away from your home, carrying your children, or some of your possessions?

If you needed to: can you go to the store and buy and carry your groceries home… walking?

I am asking all these questions because maybe you are deluding yourself.

A few years ago we did this inventory exercise, and a friend said his health was a 9. He looked healthy, he worked out, but when soon after we went for a stroll around Green Lakes, he ran out of juice after half a mile… and he dragged himself for the remaining 2.3 miles… While that was no big deal for me.

This was 10 years ago… So his health, given how far he could go, was a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Also, look at the quality of sleep, your ability to pay attention, to focus, to get things done. these are all health issues.

  • 2. your work/fulfillment
  • 3. your money
  • 4. your relationships

the four pillars of life…

If you are intelligent enough, if you can do mental simulation, you will be able to follow what I am saying next.

Adding some positive to a shitty situation won’t make it better. what will make it better is calmly observing and gently removing what causes the situation to be shitty.

I learned this lesson as a young child.

When I grew up my mother worked full time, but she also pursued her education: she got two master’s degrees in economics and mathematics.

So we were left with a live-in ‘nanny’. She cooked, she cleaned, and she made sure we didn’t kill ourselves, the three kids.

One day this nanny put too much salt into some stew, and to fix it, she put sugar in.

Of course that made the dish inedible… She did what you do, day in and day out: you add something that hopefully make the whole area better… but that method doesn’t work. a vitamin, a superfood, an argument, a demand, an ultimatum, you have thousands of actions that are all designed to fix something that you messed up.

Here is an example: mine.

I have digestion problems all the time. I have never had a good day since I was born. But it can be tolerable, and it can be intolerable.

One of the issues is pain. My organs press on each other (don’t forget I was a very undeveloped preemie when I was born) and that hurts.

So I do best when i eat very little.

No medication helps, no food list helps, no superfoods, no special diets, no. The only thing that makes life tolerable if I eat only little, so my stomach weighs little, and then the pain is tolerable.

I muscle test food lists for people. The most important part of the food list is the ‘do not eat, do not drink’ part of the list.

If you just eliminate those from your diet, you’ll be 100 times better.

What i see people do is take supplements to ‘compensate’ for the damage eating those ‘do not eat’ foods… and of course it doesn’t work.

The same is with all behaviors, all attitudes, everything.

The Anna Kerenina Method… eliminate what doesn’t work, and you’ll be left with what does work.

Of the Sherlock Holmes method: When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Another example, also mine:

yesterday I could barely see my computer screen. I didn’t run to the eye doctor, didn’t increase my prescription on my glasses… I looked what I did that could do that.

I realized that I was reading my kindle for six hours… and that was the matter.

So I am resting my eyes today and made myself a new rule: don’t read the kindle more than 2 hours a day.

Many things that you don’t know that you don’t know effects you.

Saying ‘I don’t know’ seems to be hard for people to say. Saying ‘I can find it on google’ is a little easier… but if you don’t know that you don’t know it, then you probably don’t have a good question to ask google… so you won’t find out what you didn’t know.

What most people do is live inside the slices of the knowledge-pie called: ‘you know that you know’ and ‘you know that you don’t know’.

you don't know that you don't knowBut all the power comes from the ‘you don’t know that you don’t know’ slice… but you can’t get to it directly, because it is invisible.

My articles are all designed to poke the ‘you don’t know that you don’t know’ area of the knowledge-pie.

My tools to penetrate that area are distinctions. I get there through distinctions.

I touched on a few distinctions even in this simple article… and I always do.

Fixing, wrong, elimination.

If you managed to distinguish for yourself the distinction ‘wrong’, that one distinction alone would start giving you access to that area of the pie from where all the power comes.

Truthfully, until you get that distinction, pretty much nothing else will become visible.

But once you have one distinction, you’ll not have a way to look a distinction to look through to discover more monkeys on your back and get them off.

Positive thinking is the opposite of what works. Positive thinking, whether you realized it or not, relegates, ignores, and declares war on half of reality by saying it’s wrong.

positive thinking monkeyAnd now you have this big monkey on your back that you put there by mistake… And life stops working, instead of what you hoped that life would become better.

I learned the methodology of accessing the invisible during my years of participating with Landmark Education. In addition to what I learned there, I have also accessed about one hundred additional items that I didn’t know that I didn’t know… items no one else had distinguished before me.

I teach many in my 53 invisible program, and in my new Distinctions Podcast.

My podcast is weekly, and at this point each audio cost $4. Or if you know me and you know I deliver, you can save 50% by paying for a year.

I deliver the podcast in my mobile app. In a few more weeks you’ll be able to access the app both on the desktop and on an ipad.

The calls are about an hour, hour+15 minutes long. I am trying to be briefer, but I can’t do it unless I am lecturing: not my style.

Get the monkey off your back with a weekly podcast

This is what one listener had to say:

Official Podcast Review by Jayme

I have listened to two of the three podcasts and I enjoyed them very much. I like the format, it makes the material more approachable to hear you explain it to someone else. I could otherwise see someone feeling it’s just over their head or for some select few people. This brought it to regular person level for me, as I could tell that something would click for me at the same time as it did for her, and knew I was keeping up.

As a teacher you are intimidating, the information is hard to process, but you have a friendly rapport here that takes the edge off. I enjoyed listening, it went into my brain differently than reading (I’m dyslexic and read slowwww). I’ll listen to them again, but it’s nice to rewind and redo all I want! Honestly the fact that she was anxious made me feel better at the beginning,

I would be a wreck if I was on recording. I can hardly leave a voicemail. She’s very relatable, and I would like to hear more questions that she has, or thoughts (God, Sophie stop teaching for a second! haha). I did feel I missed out at some parts because you made references to concepts that I don’t know, but I was still able to follow. If you had those listed in the info somewhere I would go over them later (maybe.) It didn’t feel like work, and I think I learned some things (I took notes. I have designated notebooks for that. Next to my list notebooks.)

(Sidenote- I’d imagine you have students who “yes you to death” when they have questions or don’t get it at all. Or some who just want a pat on the head and don’t care about getting it, not to talk sh*t. But there are a lot of people who want or need this information and might be scared of it. This was very un-scary, like a radio duo.)


  1. a problem that has been difficult to get rid of or solve with the tools we have… with the mindset we have…  It definitely feels like an uncatchable ball
  2. all knowledge parts: this is the knowledge pie.
    –part 1. you know that you know… your name, your gender, your weight, your height, you know your address, you know 4×4=16
    –part 2. you know that you don’t know. I know that I don’t know Spanish, I don’t know the square root of 1377, I don’t know how far the moon is from Earth’s surface, I don’t know why my cells don’t allow sugar in… Most of these you can look up… and at least get an idea
    –part 3. you don’t know that you don’t know. this is 90% of the knowledge pie. You need to dig for knowledge here, you need someone to teach you, you may need special filters (distinctions). So practically this is invisible to you and to others. I do all my work here…

Author: Sophie Benshitta Maven

True empath, award winning architect, magazine publisher, transformational and spiritual coach and teacher, self declared Avatar

4 thoughts on “Got a monkey on your back?”

  1. I think I am actually capable of finishing things (or starting them), but I can never light that “fire under my ass” on my own. If someone tells me “you would never do xyz thing” I get mad and am determined to do it. That is obviously not a sustainable method. I need to forget that I think I know things. I probably don’t. It’s like I’m better at working on something I don’t think I could ever ever do. Kind of like admitting incompetence from your distinctions lessons I think. I can actually focus when I’m sure I know nothing about a subject, I really think I’ll fail, so no pressure. I overcompensate, try harder and do better. When I think I know something or should be good at it, I try it once, give up, then sulk. I need to forget what I think I know about my abilities. I think I’m my own monkey. Thank you

  2. Yes, I see your machine, Jayme.

    This is why the declaration I learned back in 1987: if you want to get trained, you need to declare yourself incompetent… or you won’t get trained.

    But you need to generate the, so you don’t depend on what other people say you can or can’t, know or don’t know.

  3. I just thought about what incompetent really means from your podcast. The word has too much stigma and fog around it. Incompetent=not competent, right? If I’m trying to learn something my incompetence should be a given, and to think of it with that AWFUL (haha) word is just… awful. But it’s not an awful word at all! It’s not an insult! That hit me. I don’t take classes because I’m COMPETENT. I don’t ask for my starting point measurements or get readings from yahoos because I’m competent in my self-awareness. I know that to some degree, but it’s a satisfying slap in the face to declare incompetence. Hey, I don’t know! I can listen now, you know? Just dissecting that word a little got me thinking. And yeah, memories soul correction, it CHASES me. I can’t run anymore (not so fast anyway). I can get curious about things knowing I’m incompetent. I’m liking incompetence more and more. It’s not a bad place to be.

  4. good work Jayme…

    yes. another way to look at incompetence is that without incompetence, you cannot get to competence.
    the path, for everyone is 1. unconscious incompetence 2 conscious incompetence (you just did these two steps) 3. conscious competence through learning 4. unconscious competence through lots of practice.

    Without establishing unconscious incompetence, it is impossible to teach you.
    I bought a course on article writing. I just broke it open today.

    I had to go through this same process: OK, I am incompetent… even though I have been writing articles for 10 years now, and have 4500 on my site, and people like it.

    But yet I can declare myself incompetent, and enable myself to be trained to get to the next level where my articles will be emissaries for me and my programs in the world… that is what I’d like to accomplish.

    And that is a whole different kind of article writing…

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