Last week, I promised a powerful elixir to help break up the three stress responses that cause us to fall off track.
The elixir is curiosity to discern: What is the truth today versus how it was in the past?
Our minds are incredible at meaning-making. We know the purpose of things like showering and coffee. Your mind brings past context so you don’t have to learn why it’s important to shower and be caffeinated every morning.
That’s one purpose of remembering the past. The challenge is when we bring painful meaning from the past to the present.
For example, you know you don’t want to accommodate a request at work “but then you won’t be a team player.” Is that true today? Or is that what happened in the past?
Or did anger from a parent teach you that anger is dangerous. So, when you get an irritated answer from a colleague, you conclude she is angry and now you avoid her (yet, she has intel you need!)?
We feel damned if we do, damned if we don’t. We are without satisfying choices! This is when the urge to hit the drive-thru or work candy dish takes over.
While we may have worked out our past in therapy or a Tony Robbins workshop, we haven’t necessarily worked through how these patterns control us today. You can’t just walk on fire to get over them, because they are lodged in our nervous system, not our feet 8-). Until we have enough data today, to know we can take off our compete, avoid or accommodate safety armor.
When we become skilled at this (and everyone can learn), we find the win-win, or Option C as I call it. Admittedly, this work is akin to getting out of our own meaning matrix. As one client said, “Truce with Food (TWF) is really WTF?”
If you’re up for a little healthy rebellion against black and white choices, the next time you are stressed and hear the bad eating siren call, swallow the curiosity elixir and sharpen your discernment of “past or present” with these two mental shifts and new habits:
- Don’t close the story loop. Our first story draft of the situation is, as Anne Lammot says about all writers, usually a shitty first draft. In our case, we need to ask for more “intel,” so we can clarify and verify what is true today. What are the expectations for the project and are you the best person for the project? (Our no’s usually make sense!) Or, what works best for your coworker to get you up to speed?
- This is a data point, not an end point. One “no” or coworker reaction does not make or break our identity or relationship. The trick here is not to react right away like saying “yes” or deciding your coworker is angry. Realizing today, there is “room for error,” we can start to experiment with new choices like getting more information for clarity on the needs involved.
That’s how we get out of the past, onto Option C and life-changing food and life freedom. But, like any great heroine’s adventure, there are detours to distract you and keep you in your matrix.
I’ll be back next week to show you one of the biggest detours, along with the necessary challenges and gifts baked into setting yourself free!