January 19, 2020
Our “go-to-place” is where we go when we’ve reached our limit.
We all have a breaking point — that place where life throws a bit too much, and we believe we can’t handle one more thing. Just like a computer program, it’s an emotional default where we revert automatically to a preselected option. In our case, we default to old feelings and behaviors.
When I hit that point, I instinctively find someone to blame. I blame you, the system, the weather — if you or it would cooperate and behave appropriately — everything would be just fine. Really unattractive, right? But there it is.
My partner and I have been on a roller-coaster ride in our house hunting efforts. And it never fails, when I’m disappointed, my first thought is, “Well, I wish he wouldn’t have gotten me all excited about this!” What? I got me excited, and he didn’t do a damn thing.
Your “go-to” may be raging, becoming immobilized, or spinning in overwhelm. Or maybe you turn yourself into a victim or become a control-freak, convincing, cajoling, or shaming (them or you), into giving you what you want. The list of self-defeating, unworkable mind games that get us in trouble is endless.
Learning it’s no one else’s job to make me happy has been a lifelong challenge.
Way deep down, I still have this insidious belief that it IS your job to make me happy. There IS a Prince Charming. No surprise, those beliefs didn’t work out well when I put them into play in my relationships.
There is an alternative, and it’s nowhere near as complicated as we might think. We can set an intention to notice when our body tenses up in resistance to whatever is happening at the moment. We tense up when the world isn’t cooperating, and we’re not getting our way. That’s when we revert to our habitual default response.
When I notice my body tensing up, I stop, breathe, soften my jaw and my belly. Paying attention to softening my body brings me back from wherever my mind was taking me, to a place of sanity, the present moment.
With practice, I’ve learned to catch myself when my mind begins to take me to the land of, “But you..” This noticing has saved me over and over from turning momentary, uncomfortable feelings into extended and painful suffering. Not to mention spared many of my most cherished relationships.
When you find yourself in default and reacting out of worn-out and unworkable habits, take four steps:
- Notice when your body is tense, signaling you have reverted to that familiar default position.
- Remember, whatever solution you come up with from that place won’t work.
- Come back to the present moment so that you can deal with whatever’s going on from your wisdom mind, not your programmed and defensive eight-year-old mind.
- Do something different than you’ve done in the past.
Every time we complete these four steps, we are re-wiring our brains. We move from, “Oh no, this can’t be happening, and somebody needs to fix it” to a new default of, “Wow, I don’t have to wait for anyone or anything to change before I can be happy.” There’s nothing that makes me happier than that.
My bedroom or my actual bed. In summer it may be the garden or the shore, 35 yards away.
Chrissie–thanks for offering a new perspective on this theme! Recognizing your safe go-to-place is just as important as understanding your shadow side default place.
Beautiful! And so simple.
Thanks for the kind words Mary Lou – I so appreciate hearing when something resonates.
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