Stressed? You Might be a Monkey-Junkie

What do you do in these situations?

  1. Your 11-year-old son comes down at 8am in a panic. “I can’t find my football shirt and I’ve got practice after school”.

a) Run around the house trying to find it for him whilst he eats his breakfast.

b) Tell him “Yes I see that’s a problem for you. Where could you look that you haven’t already?” whilst you eat your breakfast.


  1. A work colleague tells you that she won’t have time to complete a report by the deadline.

a) Tell her “Give it here. I’ll stay late and get it finished for you”.

b) Ask her. “Oh. What are you going to do?”


  1. A member of your team says that he has too much work and is getting stressed.

a) Take work from him and do it yourself. You don’t want him stressed do you.

b) Sit down with him and coach him on time management techniques with agreed follow-ups to ensure he is implementing the agreed actions and getting his workload under control.


If you answered more a’s you may be a Monkey-Junkie. Think of each of these as the person having a monkey that needs feeding. If you answered a, you are saying “give me your monkey. I will feed it for you”. The person does not change behaviour and learns nothing except that you will take their monkeys.

To answer b, is to say “I acknowledge that you have a monkey that you need to feed. I will help you to learn how to feed it. Here, the person learns new behaviours and develops ways to feed their own monkeys in future.

Best of, and I promise you this. After a little while, they will be far more grateful to you for feeding their monkeys than they ever were when you fed them yourself. Try it and find out.

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