During my graduate study in linguistics, there was a term ‘cognitive flexibility,’ which I consider to be what we are creating by systematically coming to UN-BELIEVE the pain-inducing programming that keeps us in the same reactionary ruts: Anxiety, Anger and Alienation. This NEW YEAR’S LOVE letter (which you can also read on my BLOG page, if you prefer) comes from different angles at the idea that it is JUST AS POSSIBLE to become the calm awareness–letting whatever happens support us and teach us–as it is to stay upset. We truly CAN move miles away from the upset (AND still be vigilant for and patient with the brain’s habitual replays). Don’t give up hope–it’s just the old programming that is wired to believe that it’s stories of doom and gloom are helping you!
And we know how to efficiently help that out! 🙂
Hi and Happy New Year! So much love to you from my team and me!
When I heard this lyrics in a Christmas song, it reminded me of what I wanted to tell a client in crisis, someone I reached out to by phone on Christmas eve day, after she wrote to me in high anxiety and sadness that she was in a really ‘bad place’ and couldn’t get peace or be the mom she wanted to be on that special day. Together, we saw through the stories she was telling herself that were triggering familiar anxiety and depression… and more importantly, we saw that even if she went back into intense emotions and unwanted reactions–and then beat herself up for having those reactions and the thinking that triggered them–there was absolutely NO gain from staying in that ‘self- and other-punishment’ space any longer.
Instant Shift: The Pain can Go Miles Away…. UNTIL
Rather than staying stuck “in it,” your last uncomfortable emotion/reaction can just as easily become ‘MILES AWAY’ in the moment of noticing that it was in the past! When you question the beliefs behind it, and any thoughts that tell you the future will be the same–you can easily notice that your monkey mind is NOT the decider or reality or the interpreter of its meaning.
She began to ‘just notice’ that it happened, and talked with me about watching the scary beliefs from a more placid ‘undisturbed’ place. She liked the idea of being like a mermaid under water (or even in the center of a ‘globe’ of water, watching the storm above and around without being SO tossed around by it.) From that place, she began to care for and calm herself–sinking more deeply into the unshakable safety of the moment. Living and Loving from there, she could then question the truth behind other assumptions and projections that still seem to be knocking that placid inner observer around.
She cheered up and looked forward to radical self-care, bouncing back to create a loving space for herself and her family for Christmas Eve night……..
It told her in no uncertain terms that she needed to worry about this new thing–something she had interpreted in a way that wasn’t what I meant. Until we really get hold of this ‘living in symmetry,’ a habit-of-mind can actually make us believe that the anxious place is safer than the light free place she was coming into.
“Neurons that Fire Together Wire Together”
The more I research the brain science behind what we are doing, the more I see why that would happen.
THE GOOD NEWS IS: There is SO much hope for creating new pathways–since what we are doing leaves you in the place of curious compassionate openness to self, others, and life (SOAL) rather than the old familiar ‘mind knows best’ states. By harvesting and inverting the beliefs, you truly create a new connection and new choices.
THE “BAD” NEWS (which is also good news, since it dependably shows the path out!) IS: While findings in neuroplasticity show us that we truly CAN change at any age (I see it all the time), there is still an impulse (literally an electrical brain impulse!) to return to the deeply-worn path that came up with the survival strategy:
“If I focus on what could go wrong I will stay safe.”
While we now know how to disentangle those wires by Seeking the Symmetry in our painful reactions to life, the mind is still–at first–deeply and firmly programmed to look for the next thing–at least until it sees that the believe itself is the only source of the ‘problem.’
>>>>>In fact, my observations indicate that the high-anxiety fight-or-flight reaction can become ERRONEOUSLY PAIRED WITH THE IDEA OF SELF-CARE AND PROTECTION.
What Hurts Gets Paired with the Idea of Self-Care and Protection
In other words, if you keep returning to old reactions even when we know a way out, it’s because there is a hidden payoff keeping it alive. That doesn’t mean you’re purposefully USING or MANIPULATING your situation with your reactivity, it just means there is still a part of you that truly believes that anxiety, anger, and alienation are ensuring your survival. Her deep depression, while incredibly painful, is still the go-to response, for now, that feels safer than putting the pain in the past. It’s like the wires got crossed–the very thing that causes our pain is perceived as what we need to do to feel better.
BACK TO GOOD NEWS: It is very possible to uncross them. We do absolutely re-wire things with this work. But it takes some tenacity…. the more you let your life situations show you the littlest part of you that still believes it’s saving you, the more you get to finally SAVE IT!
Since neurons that “fire together wire together,” so do the chemical reactions they create. Part of your brain will still work overtime scanning the environment for the next thing it can find to justify going back into that old survival strategy and the ineffective reactions and compulsions it once came to believe would solve things, and your body will tell you “SOMETHING IS WRONG!”
Doing Push-Ups Out in the Hall
I love that life keeps bringing us the very situations we need to expose the place where that wiring still needs to get untangled, where the ‘little helper’ still believes it is saving us by making life and others (and ourselves) into the enemy, until we learn new habits of mind to sustain a happier life. In other words, as 12-Step programs would say,
“Even though you are doing better [which this client CLEARLY IS!], your disease is out in the hallway doing push-ups!”
That does NOT mean it’s hopeless. In fact, it makes our strategy of following the course of what can still upset you a perfect strategy for undoing what needs to be undone! However, since the dis-ease under it all is believing our own thinking, re-wiring that requires being just as tenacious in questioning and turning around what ever thinking is behind your upsets, until new neural pathways–now wired to use mindful awareness, peace, and clarity as survival strategies–replace the old strategies of anxiety, entanglement, blame, and shame.
STILL MORE GOOD NEWS: WE DO THIS IN A WAY THAT IS EFFICIENT, FUN, FULL OF CONNECTION TO SELF AND OTHERS, AND ABSOLUTELY RELIABLE because it is so THEORETICALLY SOUND and SIMPLE! (i.e., if you do it, old pain and patterns WILL fall away. Guaranteed.)
Two Seconds or Two Decades Ago
Whether the old habitual thought and the reaction it triggered happened are 2 seconds or two weeks or 2 decades ago, THIS ONE can easily be ‘MILES AWAY’ once you’ve seen that it wasn’t true to start with. It simply no longer has power over you. It’s over and it was just a mental hypothesis to start with!
You get to notice what is happening, notice what you are feeling, notice the thinking behind those feelings, flow with what life and others bring, and still stay grounded as the calm presence that sustains you in absolutely safety.
PS–Let this be your year to stop being pushed around by the waves. There are SO many ways I can support you, no matter what your time or budget constraints. This is real. And it’s not what you’ve done before.
If you’re ready to break old patterns for good, write back to me by hitting reply, or click the website link below for a priceless shift through wonderful free resources and paid programs.
Knowing your New Year will be exactly what you need (whether you know it or not… yet). xoxox hawnie