Follow by Email

Monday, August 18, 2014

What's Your "DEFAULT"?

What's Your "DEFAULT"?

When we're having a difficult or challenging time, often what's triggered is a set of feelings, thoughts and/or behaviors that we habitually use. We default to what is familiar. More than likely, it doesn't feel good, but whatever it is, it's something we've done or felt many times before. We return to them when our current lives are linked to unfinished or unresolved issues, experiences or beliefs that formed early in our lives.

Ultimately, our defaults signal us that it's time to do, think or feel something different. What we've been doing isn't working any more and it's time to make a shift, a transformation. 

Your DEFAULT may be any or a combination of the following:

Damaged part of self
Emotions 
Feelings in the body
Automatic actions
Unhealthy coping strategies
Lingering beliefs
Thoughts we grew up with but no longer serve us


Let's take one at a time.


Damaged part of self
When you hit something challenging today and had difficulty coping, you may be seeing a part of yourself that is damaged and unhealed. This part of you is in need of attention -- it's being triggered by the current event. When you're able to, begin to notice when you first experienced the kind of reaction you're now having. What was going on in your life then? Use this information to begin to heal the part of yourself that was hurt or damaged at that time of your life. 

Emotions
For some people, a default may be a particular emotion, like sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, or shame. Try to remember other times you've felt this way. Notice the pattern of the situations or events. What does this remind you of? In many cases, you can trace the emotional default to early life events that helped shape who you are. The important thing is to suspend judgment and simply notice. Inevitably, all feelings pass through us. It's when we block their expression that we return to them over and over again. 

Feelings in the body
Pay attention to WHERE in your body you're feeling your response to the event. Areas to check out are the gut, chest/heart, throat or head. When something happens to you, do you tend to experience stomach aches? Or perhaps tightness in your chest? Or heartache? Maybe your throat constricts or you get a headache. Our bodies store memories and send us signals to bring to our attention what we need to heal. Simply notice where you're feeling the effects of the situation you're now experiencing. You might pose a question: "If this part of my body could speak, what might it be saying to me?" Notice what floats up into your awareness. 


Automatic actions
Some of us launch into action -- or inaction through shut-down -- when life brings us stressful events. This could be to avoid or "run away". Maybe you "stand your ground" and end up arguing with someone, picking a fight with those dear to you. However you automatically react, it may have served a purpose in the past, but it's probably not helping now. It can be tricky to change this kind of thought or behavior, but it's not impossible. One way to start is to think of a situation in the past where you engaged this coping strategy. Guide yourself though the situation again, only this time create a new ending with a more healthy behavior or thought. Practice this mentally over and over again. This is and application of guided imagery, the kind that high-performance athletes use to improve their game. YOU can use it to change your "game", too.


Unhealthy coping strategies
Many of us have developed any number of unhealthy coping strategies, our "go to" comfort to ease the internal turmoil: alcohol, food, drugs, sex... the list goes on. ANY behavior or habit can become unhealthy -- even the "healthy" ones -- when used in unhealthy ways. The "trick" is to notice the coping strategy you're using, figure out what triggered its use, then interrupt the pattern. It's not usually very easy and you might have to distract yourself with other strategies or substitute another way of coping until you untangle the sequence. But with practice, you CAN learn to cope in ways that are healthy.


Lingering beliefs
Whether we realize it or not, beliefs from our early childhood have shaped much of our reality -- until we're conscious of their influence. These might be thoughts we grew up with but no longer serve us. Check your language for words like "Should" or "must" -- these are indicators of (irrational) beliefs you hold or "rules" you've lived by unconsciously. And it's a good chance that they're also keeping you stuck. Begin by examining the SHOULDs in your life and language, then find ways to challenge these beliefs. 


Thoughts
We all have a running commentary in our heads -- thoughts and values that shape our actions and our reality. Often -- not all the time -- these thoughts work against us. Because we are so open to having others' thoughts influence us, we carry them into our later lives without questioning them. These thoughts have always been a part of us, so it's pretty difficult to zero in on them. 

So, what are some of your default thoughts, feelings or behaviors? Once you can identify them, take small steps to changing when and how you use them. 

Let me know how it goes!

No comments:

Post a Comment