When I’m cold, I put on a sweater, sit by the fire, get under a blanket, close the window, turn up the heat.
When I’m hot, I take off the sweater, move away from the fire, cast off the blanket, open the window, turn down the heat.
When I’m tired, I rest, I nap, I sleep.
When I’m hungry, I eat.
When I’m thirsty, I drink.
When I’m curious, I question, I explore.
When I’m sticky, I wash.
When I’m late, I step up the pace.
When I’m sad. I binge Netflix.
When I’m lonely, I compare.
When I’m scared, I run or hide or micromanage—WAIT A MINUTE.
Something’s not right.
Where did I go off-track?
When I have feelings I don’t like, that feel dangerous somehow.
That’s when I tend to habitually grab for something to protect myself. I numb or attack (or retreat) or scramble to regain control.
It’s very human, this habitual response.
The thing is, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t address the underlying issue. Frankly, it makes it worse because it stops me from telling the truth, from putting myself out there.
So, what is happening in those moments? Two things:
1. A set of physical sensations.
2. A set of thoughts about the past and/or the future, often about how awful things (I, you, they, it) were or about how awful they are going to be–a bunch of panicky mind chatter. Quite frankly, it’s often abusive.
Now, what if I accept that # 2 is going to happen at times, like, for the rest of my life? What if I (dare I say) embrace that as something my mind does when it’s unsure and simply turn my attention to #1, my body, and open to what I find there?
What if I understood that the name of the game is not improving my thoughts but expanding my tolerance for the physical sensations I’ve labeled as ‘bad’ so that I can do all the new, interesting, untested, exciting, expansive things I want to do. and stop letting my mind stop me?
What if these sensations are not bad but rather, as Josh Pais says, simply energy, molecules vibrating at different speeds? When we allow them to be there, they move (and so do we). When we resist them, they get stuck, (and so do we).
Think of a beautiful old faucet that makes a horrendous screeching sound when you turn the handle. You know this faucet. You know its quirks. You know that if you keep turning the handle, the water will flow and the sound will stop. It doesn’t scare you anymore. That’s just what this faucet does.
You don’t stop.
You don’t take it personally.
You open the channel and drink. And grow