- Sense that you're being criticized
- Sense that your spouse is withdrawing from you
- Discover an opportunity to feast on lust
- Worry your partner is lusting after someone else
- Feel disrespected by your kids
- Feel left out by your friends
- Are disappointed in your own performance
- etc., etc., etc.
Once we find ourselves in those inner ruts, the behavior patterns we manifest become quite predictable as well. We engage in some version of fight, flee, or freeze. We accuse. We blame. We criticize. We escape. We pull away. We put up a wall. We numb out. We bite our tongue. We pretend we aren't affected.
Our mental ruts have channelled us into behavioral ruts... which then push our loved ones and associates into self-defeating and self-perpetuating ruts of their own. Life becomes a continual round of Emotional Groud Hog Day. New, potentially fresh interactions--sometimes even with brand new people--but somehow they end up feeling eerily familiar. A new day!... but lived in the same old, same old way.
Here is an experiment to try out. It just takes a minute, but when it works the difference can be profound:
- Acknowledge a defensive/protective reaction has come up.
- Notice what you feel in your body and where.
- Thank that reaction (or part of you) for trying to help.
- Ask it to stand by (It can always take back over if it's really needed).
- Move the energy you're feeling in your body to your heart.
- Reengage with the situation or interaction in a deliberately open-hearted way.