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Chimp Paradox

The Chimp Paradox: How to achieve when the pressure’s on ⏱ 2 mins

Do you ever go bananas when you’re stressed or anxious? The Chimp Paradox explains how to act like a pro, not a primate when you’re feeling the heat.

Five words sum up how you can become a better singing teacher: “Be kind to your Chimp.”

Yes, you read that correctly. It’s not a typo or an autocorrect fail.

In fact, there’s a vast amount of science to back up that statement.

We’re referring to the work of Professor Steve Peters, a consultant psychiatrist who has worked with sports stars such as Victoria Pendleton and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Professor Peters is best known for his 2012 book The Chimp Paradox.

Even though thousands of books about mind management have hit the shelves since The Chimp Paradox was first published, it is still regarded as one of the best in its field.

What’s it about?

In a nutshell, we all have an inner Chimp (which rules our emotions) and a Human (our logical side).

When we’re under pressure or our defences are low, our Chimp dominates. As a result, we may react to a situation in an impulsive and unhelpful manner – and regret it later.

If you’ve ever lost your cool in the heat of the moment, only to suffer a serious case of remorse, then you’ll know what we’re talking about.

Why does this happen? When we’re under the cosh, our Human needs a little time to analyse a situation (it’s looking for facts so it can make a rational decision).

Often by the time our Human kicks in, it’s too late, and we’ve already said or done something that we wish we hadn’t.

Can we tame the beast?

Professor Peters argues that suppressing our Chimp is an impossible task that is doomed to fail.

It’s better to understand our Chimp, be kind to it, and devise strategies to manage it.

How does this help singing teachers?

As Alexa Terry explains in the Singing Teachers Talk podcast, vocal coaches are often put on the spot during lessons.

Sometimes a student is irrational, unresponsive or difficult, or a ‘Tiger Parent’ makes unreasonable demands.

The next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, have some strategies at the ready so that your inner Primate doesn’t take over.

A word on Imposter Syndrome

Our Chimp also has an unhelpful habit of chipping away at our self-esteem. That voice that questions your achievements and casts doubt over your abilities – that’s your furry guy or girl in action.

Thankfully, the book also has some useful tips on how to turn down the volume on Imposter Syndrome.

Listen to The Singing Teachers Talk podcast to learn more.

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