Are you in touch with your ‘inner chimp’ is a question Dr Steve Peters, the psychiatrist behind the winning Olympic GB cycling team, asks you. Olympic gold medal winners Hoy, Wiggins & Pendleton swore by his psychological techniques. To become ‘champs’ they calmed their inner ‘chimps’.

In his book, The Chimp Paradox, Peters likens our potentially explosive emotional inner self to a chimpanzee, able to derail us from reaching our goals, unless checked. Whether it’s a Hollywood star doing his nut and going crazy in front of millions, a pro footballer taking a chomp out of an opponent’s ear for all to see at different camera angles, or ordinary people like you and me, at home, work, play, on the street or in a shop losing our cool and making a spectacle of ourselves, we all need to learn to calm our inner chimp.


In his book, The Chimp Paradox, Dr Steve Peters shares his mind management programme used to help elite athletes perform at their optimum level. As a keen cyclist, getting in touch with my ‘inner tube’ appeals to my sense of humour. I confess, there have been moments in my life, when my normally calm, laid back persona gives way to ballistic ‘blow-outs’, when I say or do something I later regret. They usually coincide with high stress levels and senses of injustice. But it’s my inner ‘child’, not a ‘chimp’, who I see the need to get in touch with.

Recently Jurgen Klopp ran at the 4th official to shout in his ear, immediately after his side scored an extra-time winner. It was as if to say “Stuff You for all your rotten decisions throughout this match!” Klopp got rightly reprimanded and limped away having pulled something in his leg. Indeed, I’m confident he reflected on his outburst with embarrassment. We’ve all been there, when we’ve let our emotions embarrass us unhelpfully, when we’ve let our inner child loose and shown that there’s still plenty scope for us to mature. I find the Transaction Analysis ‘Parent, Adult, Child’ (PAC) lenses helpful in recognising that it’s possible to play all three (PAC) roles within the same day. But to grow up well the ‘child’ in all of us needs to be loved, disciplined and directed.

For this we do need good models and mentors, people to show us the way to grow up well, which includes learning to eat humble pie, say “Sorry!” and learn from our blow-outs or passive aggressive ‘blow-ins’. I’ve just turned 61, and today my prayer is this, “Lord Jesus, my champ, calm my chimp and chide the child in me. When I grow up, I want to be like you! Amen.”