Blog & Podcast

Episode 062: You don’t have to be Zen to fight your Monger

For years I thought I had to be super yoga zen woman to deal with this nasty inner voice. And being the Type A person I am that wasn’t going to work…fortunately I found a way for me that does. Today a few thoughts on dealing with your Monger when you aren’t Zen.


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Hi, and welcome. You are listening to The Happiness Hacks podcast, and I’m your host, Nancy Jane Smith. I’m a licensed professional counselor. In this podcast, I share my stories, lessons, and hacks I’ve learned and I continue to learn on my quest to live happier. The show notes can be found at This is episode 62: You Don’t Have to Be Zen to Fight Your Monger.

Hello, all. I’m super excited to be here for yet another episode. Today I wanted to take a break from the regularly scheduled program talking about myths of our mongers and just address the process of going after and quieting our mongers and what that process has been like for me and what it might be like for you if you are similarly a type A, non-zen personality. The mongers is that nasty voice in our head that tells us, “Oh, you’re not doing it right. You’re failing. This isn’t working. You need to be perfect. You need to be on top of things.”

Today I was going to talk about two more myths that I have unearthed in my working with the mongers, but before I get into that, I just wanted to touch in, connect in with everyone and thank you for listening to the podcast. If you like what you’re hearing, you can feel free to go to iTunes and leave a review, which would be awesome. I have a link to that on the episode page on Live Happier, where to go to write the review. That’s something I would request from you just so more people can have access to this information and learn more about Happiness Hacks.

I also just wanted to touch on mongers in general. As we do this work, what I love about mongers is they’re never boring, for sure. As someone who tends to get bored easily, working with mongers has kept me entertained, I guess, for lack of a better word, because mongers are so wily.

I just wanted to reach through the microphone and say: This work is hard. A lot of people, when they start working with their mongers, and initially they’re like, “I don’t have a monger. I don’t have that voice. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have that voice,” and then, as they start unearthing it, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I have that voice, and it chats all the freakin’ time.” Then there’s this wash of shame that comes, like, “Oh my gosh, I am constantly just hammering myself.”

Once you realize that’s happening, then you want to fix it right away, and you want to get rid of it right away. The danger of that is: we can’t. That’s the part I hate about this work the most, is that there is no way to completely get rid of the monger because it is biologically there, I believe, to help us survive in the world, to help us recognize danger. But it has run amok, and so we’ve gotten stuck in this cycle of perfectionism and people-pleasing and procrastination and all those lovely “p” words, as well as just beating ourselves to a bloody pulp that we’re not experiencing things in our lives the way we want to be. I think everything comes back to the mongers, and that’s why I love this work so much.

But to the same point, I think it’s discouraging for people to be like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve done all this work on my monger, and it’s still there.” Yeah, it’s still going to be there, but I can testify that the more you do this work and the more you channel in that biggest fan, the more it helps and the quieter that monger voice gets. When I started this work, I was totally under the trance of the monger. Tara Brach talks about in Radical Acceptance the trance of unworthiness, and that is totally … It was all-encompassing to me, and I never got out of it. Now, after working on it and bringing awareness to that monger and channeling in the biggest fan, it’s changed my life in so many ways. I’ve seen it in clients where they’ve become less engrossed by this monger voice that’s just always there.

The piece of all of this that drives me the craziest, and I wish I could figure it out, to be honest, is how … I’ve been going back through and reading some of the books that I’ve read on inner critic and on compassion and all that stuff as I’ve been writing my book and recognizing how often I would read things and I’d be like, “Yes, I agree with this. I need to love myself more, or I need to be more accepting of myself,” and then to turn around and be like, “But how do I do that?” It was such a foreign concept to me of: How do I love myself?

Even today it’s a bit of a foreign concept. It’s not my first thought to pause and give myself a break and own what I’m feeling and get in my body and do all the things that I teach. It is not my first response. Hijacking that first response and recognizing, “Wait a minute, this isn’t going to be the first thing I think of. I’m going to have to work at this,” is really what radically shifted for me, I think because when you read the books and when you listen to podcasts and when you do the Ted Talks, it sounds really easy. It sounds like, “Just love yourself,” or, “Just accept where you are,” or, “Notice how often you don’t accept yourself and change that,” and it’s not that easy.

I guess I just wanted to give some lip service to those of you have have been doing this work and struggling with this stuff, that it’s not like you can just flip a switch and suddenly you love yourself. It is a process of learning what the biggest fan’s voice sounds like and figuring out what it feels like to be in your body and noticing how often the monger talks to you. All of that stuff plays out and takes some time. So often we’ll read these books, and we’ll listen to these things, and we’ll be like, “Yes,” and then we don’t implement what they tell us to implement. I’m encouraging you to REALLY implement this stuff.

Part of the reason I’m so excited about it is because it worked for me. I am the test subject of someone who drug my heels kicking and screaming into this work. I really did not want to get into my body. I didn’t want to pause. I didn’t want to do any of it. I just wanted to be fixed and to have that instant gratification of loving myself. These little weekly ritual hacks and figuring out how to channel that biggest fan and what she looked like and how she talked to me shifted everything for me. That’s why I’m so excited about teaching it because I was so resistant to it, and if I could find something that worked, I think that it might help you find something that worked.

My process is what worked for me because I didn’t want to do the … I’m not a yoga girl. I’m not a zen girl. I am a type A, driven, balls-out girl. The idea of slowing down, I knew that was key, but I didn’t know how to do that in my life because it wasn’t my first response. That’s where the weekly rituals came in. That’s why the idea of randomly slowing down throughout the day came in. All of those ideas where ways of shifting and making the concepts of how to accept yourself work for my personality, because I am not a zen girl. I don’t have it in me. But I have figured out how to tap into that zen in my lifestyle while blaring music on the radio to also be tapping into my zen. I think that that is what makes this work so powerful for me, is that I figured out a way to make it work for me. I hope you can find a way to make this work for you too.

That is the end of my rant on this stuff. Next week I will be back to pick up where I left off and talk about even more myths of our mongers. I just wanted to do this interlude because it’s on my mind, the idea of mongers and the challenge of them. I’ve been getting emails from people saying, “This is harder than I want it to be,” and I hear you. I just wanted to be like, “I hear you. Keep at it. This stuff works.” I am not the guru. I am just someone who is sharing my process from years of research and study and what’s worked for my clients and me. I encourage you to take it and tweak it and make it work for you is all I’m asking, just to take all the knowledge you have and figure out how it works for you.



Weekly Ritual Segment:

One thing that has helped me Live Happier is adding regular ritual practices to my daily life so each week I am going to be sharing a ritual with you and challenge you to complete it.

Look Up and Make Eye Contact

Now it’s time for the weekly ritual challenge. This week’s weekly ritual challenge is to focus on making eye contact with people. The reason I wanted to do this one is because I noticed for myself I spent so much time looking down. I’m either caught in my head, or I’m reading my phone. I’m not engaging in the world around me as I’m walking around. This week I want you to practice looking up and making eye contact with people, and for bonus points greeting them and saying, “Hi.” I tried this yesterday. We went to the doctor’s office. It didn’t go really well because people are not used to making eye contact with strangers, and they’re not used to greeting them. It’s going to be a continual struggle for me this week to see. I’m going to have the challenge of: Can I get people to actually interact with me?

This exercise is going to get you out of your head and those important thoughts and into your body. Plus, it helps you feel even more connected to the world around you. For me, I ended up “failing” at it yesterday when we were at the doctor’s office, but I was able to implement it with my husband because I noticed how often I look at my phone when I’m talking to him. It’s really pervasive in my life, and I’m sure in other people’s lives. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

Check out my Instagram where I share my daily check in with the weekly ritual practice. It is a helpful way for both of us to stay accountable to the practice.

I’ll be back next week for another Happiness Hacks podcast, and I hope to see you then If you have questions or thoughts or anything, please email me at, or you can follow me on Instagram, @nancyjane_livehappier. Until next time here’s to living happier.

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