Five Ways to Tame the Monkey Within

How to tackle your ego while giving it a cuddle

Martin O'Toole
2 min readMay 25


Meet the “Monkey Mind”, a euphemism for our untamed ego. Picture a relentless, chattering monkey, ceaselessly jumping from thought to thought, muddling our inner peace. This restless creature embodies our fears, doubts, and unchecked desires, often peddling tales that paint us in a better light or safeguard our pride. Without mindful management, our Monkey can thwart personal development, nurturing insecurity, stress, and impulsive behaviour. Still wondering about the signs of a rampant Monkey Mind? Look out for rampant overthinking, harsh self-criticism, persistent worry, and an inability to live in the present moment. We’ve all got one. The only question is: who’s driving your Earth Rover? Conscious, or your well-meaning, hairy-handed friend? Taming Monkey is no easy feat, but with mindful awareness, it’s possible to keep this capricious creature in check.

So with that in mind (see what I did there?), here are five ways to tame the monkey within:

  1. Learn to notice and observe your feelings. When you see that you’re feeling angry, neglected, marginalised, defensive, etc., stop whatever you’re doing and simply breathe.
  2. You are human. Accept that you’re not perfect — that the taming process is far from an overnight fix. No hacks; just work.
  3. To see the bigger picture, step away from the drama. Remove your attention and energy from the thing that’s triggered you. Focus on something for which you are grateful.
  4. Ground yourself. Step away from the house, office, or triggering scenario. Get outside for five minutes and stand barefoot on the earth. Belly breathe.
  5. Let go of any judgment. Viewing your ego as a literal “enemy” will only serve to create further inner conflict. Don’t beat Monkey; give it a cuddle, thank it for its service, and then ask it to step aside.

Remember this is a process, and while there are mindfulness hacks to help create momentary stillness, the game is to cultivate your own daily practice by finding your “Anatomy of Happy”. At the top of the hill that is this work sits the opportunity to create your “Zen Venn” — a delicate balance of awareness, presence, acceptance, and gratitude. More of which you can learn about in my new book, How To Die Happy. Thanks for reading.



Martin O'Toole

How To Die Happy author, podcaster, and mental health advocate writing about healing and the Anatomy of Happy.