Monday, August 5, 2013

. Decision

Welcome back, fellow explorers of the world of Resistance. As you know, we're talking about the four parts I've identified for myself with regard to this stubborn friend of mine. I've written about Information, Analysis, Reaction/Response and that brings us the the final one, Decision.

We have discovered that the body observes something, then it analyzes whether this threat is one to run from or kill to avoid. This is followed by an effort to know the feeling so that slowing down can occur and a response can be formulated instead of a knee jerk reaction taking over.

Now that we've come this far that doesn't preclude impulsive action. And we've pretty much all acted impulsively from time to time. The key to impulsive action in my case is what the guys on Car Talk refer to as "absent the thought process..." This means to me that action has preceded Decision. My American Heritage Dictionary describes impulsive as Inclined to act on impulse rather than thought.

I hope we haven't come all this way to decide to act impulsively now. So my next step is to Decide a plan of action. And since the situation is prompted by my feeling, I want to get connected to what each feeling means. I look at them this way:
      Sad- Response to loss. If I think I lost something I'm sad. It may be something I had such as losing                 my sunglasses, or a relationship, such as the death of a loved one or loss of friendship or lover.               And it may be the loss of something hoped for such as a piece of business, a job, a new friend               or many more. Sadness requires being comforted, usually by a person, not a behavior or                         substance. Inappropriate comforting can cause addiction, because it's avoidance instead of                       comfort. The time frame here is the Past. It happened.

      Mad- Response to a boundary being violated. When someone steps on my toe I get angry. That's                     appropriate. I need to make sure my response is as well. Without making excuses or                               apologizing I can make sure the person understands where my boundary is. It is totally unfair                 for me to assume anyone knows where my boundaries are if I haven't told them. Fences are                   words, but few other things are. The time frame here is Present. It is taking place now.
      Glad- When I am gratified my something the appropriate response is Glad, or Joy, not to be                               confused with pleasure, which is enjoyable, but relatively meaningless. It has few lasting                         effects. Joy on the other hand stays even through pain, because it is a state of being as                             opposed to circumstance. The time frame here is Timeless. Time has nothing to do with it.

      Afraid-  Response to a future event. This is worry, projection and all the things that predicting the                         future has attached to it. And Frer is actually a great friend. It helps me want to stop for a                         red light. It helps me look at a threat and decide what to do about it. The time frame is                             Future, so I actually have time to make a decision if it's not life or death. Which it almost                         never is.

So here's the frame work I have for making that all important decision instead of reacting mindlessly and creating problems for myself, usually with people who are important to me either for love or sustenance.

I know how hard and complicated this looks. And I'm not going to say it's easy. I am saying that it's surprising simple. Getting in touch with the message my body is sending to me is actually an act of blessing myself. Once I get accustomed to blessing myself I begin to realize how valuable I actually am. And the more valuable I am the less shame and defensiveness is present in me.

C'mon back for the next chapter in the journey to Fulfillment. Which is actually the prize st the end of the rainbow. At least for me.

3. Reaction/Response

The next chapter of our journey is the Reaction/Response section. As I've done it, I spent most of my life doing anything not to feel. I learned early on that feelings were wrong and bad. Smart people and good people didn't need or have feelings. 

You probably know by now that nothing could be further from the truth. I don't choose to feel or not feel. My body does it without permission from my brain. My brain, like everyone's, reacts to the world around me as it observes what's going on around me. Something happens and faster than you can say "huh?", it has seen, analyzed and sent a message to my brain to pay attention. Now the oldest and therefore most experienced part of me is sometimes referred to as the lizard brain. It's the part most closely associated with survival. It is known as the amygdala in the scientific world.

The amygdala's function (one of them) is to assess risk and determine if I should run from this threat or kill it. This is survival at the primal level. It assumes that all risks are life or death. So let me ask you to consider the last time your life was threatened. If you're like me you can't recall. What that means is that I have to learn how to not react from the amygdala place. I have to slow down and think about a response to my feeling which would be more appropriate than the running/killing reaction.

But, easier said than done. After a lifetime of reacting to situations or ignoring them it's difficult to learn to slow down and think before acting. And you may share my experience of trying to tell myself to do something I've never done before and expecting I'll behave toward myself any better than I behaved for mom and dad. Commands have never worked for me before and they haven't worked for clients I've worked with either. So, what's a poor boy to do?

I've tried different things; none with any kind of results that were reliable. Here's the one thing I tried that has succeeded much of the time.

Over the last several years I've tried various ways to practice being in the present. After all, my entire life is taking place in this moment. I can either do something which contributes to my life or something that doesn't. And contribution takes on many guises. They are not all related to work. They are not all related to play. Those contributions are the elements that together are creating my life. They come in different sizes, shapes and colors. Some are hard and sturdy, some are ephemeral and some are frivolous. The objective is to create something I can enjoy and be grateful for while I struggle and while I rest and recuperate. I'm really looking for Fulfillment. And that's a topic for another day.

As I have struggled to be in the moment I realized that there is one thing necessary for the moment. That is to know my feelings: Glad, Mad Sad and Afraid. Those only happen in real time and they are always real time. They are perhaps a definition of the moment. They are always present to a greater or lesser degree and when I know where I am with all of them I am in the moment. I am also prepared to notice when one of them spikes, which may give me an opportunity to react from a more mature or developed part of my brain that the lizard locale.

The fourth part is next. See you soon.