Monday, July 23, 2012

Open Your Heart, Pop Out of Your Rut

Perhaps you've noticed that familiar inner patterns automatically kicks in as soon as you...
  • 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.
We cherish our human capacity for resourcefulness and innovation, but how creative do we really permit ourselves to be? So many of our inner responses follow these old tracks created more by our programming than our preferences, by our conditioning than our consciences.

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.
Do it two or three times a day when you feel the gravitational pull of outdated, unwanted emotional reactions. Then please leave a comment below on how it goes for you.


  1. I've been able to do this with some of my own pretty powerful triggers. It's taught me that my mind and heart are more powerful than any reaction I may have to something I see, smell or hear.

    at first it's hard and seem counter-intuitive. Like I just want to give into emotional wreckage. But its possible to change those thoughts. they are lies i tell myself and I don't need to react to them.

  2. Thanks for commenting "Scabs." There is such a powerful pull, isn't there, when our demons are trying to draw us back into the dance? It can feel almost impossible to stay open-hearted and "supple." To stay engaged with both the threatening thing or person in our environment AND with all the stuff going on inside ourselves. It's so much easier to harden up, give in, or try to get away. Thanks for sharing your encouragement!

  3. This is interesting; I will give it a try! I know many times I react in fear or anger; using this method may give me time to "collect myself" and not fire back without first assessing the situation and my feelings. Thanks!