I have recently been listening to a lecture by Pema Chodron On Udemy called The Freedom to Choose Something Different. It is fabulous.
One of the things Pema talks about is how we get “hooked”…that is how we react over and over again in the same ways even though it is hurting our health, our relationships and our ability to be at peace because we just can’t let things go. She talks about how even before we process “the hook” we can feel it in our gut…that unconscouis tightening that occurs when we are starting to be hooked and react in ways that are not beneficial for us or others. And Pema is right.
Many times when I was yelling I would feel that anger start in the pit of my stomach and move upward and then out of my mouth in the form of a very LOUD yell. Pema says that the trick to eliminate this unwanted behavior is to choose to do something different to break that pattern of reaction.
There are several things that I have put into place when I feel that irritation or anger first start. They are:
I take 10 deep breaths (one breath doesn’t work for me because I can hyperventilate and breath so fast, so that I am still angry when I am done…sigh)
I removed myself to my closet where I listen to a 10 minute Chel Hamilton Podcast which teaches new approaches to try when things are bothering me. Bonus this totally relaxes me and I am a new person when I emerge.
I envision myself reacting the way I would like someone to act towards me
I pull on my ear to break my irritation pattern and amazingly it calms me right down.
In this vein, I once listened to a NPR program that talked about the huge issue of heroin addiction that the Army was facing prior to the Vietnam Vets arriving back in the States after the war. The soldiers were shooting up in large numbers in Viet Nam and the Armed Forces were worried about the tidal wave of soldiers returning home addicted. Turns out that while some addicts did continue with their habit, many more did not. Why? It seems that changing location made a huge difference. Not due to access but just due to the fact that when you change a pattern you can change behavior.
Breaking the pattern is the first step towards change whether it is yelling, eating, sleeping or many other issues that we find annoying or that damage relationships. It takes recognition, hard work, mindfulness and wanting something different in order to incorporate things into our lives to stop “the hook” from taking over.
So if you are driving along and you see a woman frantically tugging on her ear, it is probably me, and you probably just cut me off but it no longer irritates me because I have chosen to do something different. Have you?