Is Monkey Mind at the Root of Your Relationship Woes?

If you think about it, your mind is a lot like a crazy monkey: It’s always running off, following this thought or that thought.

I liken my own monkey mind tendencies (because we all have them!) to getting lost in an overgrown forest. You have no idea how you strayed from the path or when but you definitely did and now you’re caught in a thicket of thoughts, stressing out over this future event or that deadline. And poof! You’re off on a whole mental detour, away from the present.

Opportunities for authenticity and intimacy show up all the time, but you’ll miss them if you succumb to your monkey mind tendencies. 

Monkey mind wreaks havoc on your ability to have a satisfying love life: When you get carried off in a stream of thoughts, and you end up thinking about life as opposed to actually living it and enjoying it as it happens. And that’s a real problem for your relationships because you lose connection to not just your own physical and emotional experience, but also to everything that’s going on between you and your partner, live and in real-time.

Imagine: You’re together with your partner hanging out, having fun, or running errands and you get caught up in mentally composing that work email to your team; it means you’re missing out on your lady’s beautiful smile or that witty joke she cracked while you were only half listening. It means you didn’t even notice that he lovingly put his hand on your knee while driving and kept it there the whole way home or that he always plants a kiss on your cheek when he holds the door open for you.

Opportunities for authenticity and intimacy show up all the time, but you’ll miss them if you succumb to your monkey mind tendencies. Listen, when you consistently fail to seize those opportunities for connection, you’ll both end up feeling the distance and disconnection in your relationship, which I know isn’t what you ultimately want at all.

Monkey mind can even get in the way of your sex life. I think we can all agree that presence is key to a satisfying physical relationship; nobody wants their lover to be thinking about work or that they forgot to call mom when they're about to get busy. When presence is lacking, both parties can end up feeling alone, dissatisfied, confused, and blame themselves or each other for the sexual disconnect. No fun.

Here’s how to stop your monkey mind from wreaking havoc on your relationship. First thing first, know what you’re up against.

Here are some common ways monkey mind will distract you from the present moment:

  • Future Tripping
  • Being preoccupied with the future
  • To-do list items
  • Plans
  • Uncertainty and apprehension about some future thing like how a project or conversation will go.
  • Rehearsing conversations in your head that you may or may not ever have.

Expert Advice: Notice that you’re future tripping, name it, and get it out of your head and either on to some paper or into your digital planner. If you need to make dinner reservations for your out of town guests, schedule some time do it, set a reminder, or stop scrolling through twitter and do it now. The idea here is you’re working to remember to make the reservation, your mind is efforting to bringing it to the foreground so you don’t space it out completely. Let your handy device do the remembering for you so you can take a deep breath, get present, and give your partner a nice smooch.  

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About the Author

Heather Lyon is a contributor to MeetMindful and a global Life & Relationship Coach, helping her clients to answer the age old question, ‘should I stay or should I go’. She offers a combination of practical and spiritual counsel to help people navigate the inevitable curve balls that come up in life and love. Her work draws from the principles of Buddhist Psychology and the solution focused approach of coaching. Enjoy Heather’s free guided meditation, recorded live in San Francisco, join her Facebook communityher Instagram community, or follow her on Twitter.

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