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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: November 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pointing in the Right Direction (What do we really want?)

We have all probably been there, and most likely over and over again.  There  being that point and place where we have in mind what we should be doing, or how we should be handling something, or responding or behaving, and how we do end up handling it or responding or reacting.  There being how we want to act or feel or respond. Or at least, think we want to.  Sometimes its with our temper (this is step one in anger management), with our food, with our relationships, with our wellness routines.  We think we know what we want.  And we do.  On some level.  Mostly.  Probably.  Consciously.
But when we don't follow up with actions that support it, and when habit starts slipping into obsession, or out of control behavior, or even just too many slip ups, we can be well served by taking another look at want we want and where we are really pointed any why.

Slip ups and set backs are a normal part of any quest for better.  They are a learning opportunity, a source of information and a reason to stay curious about life and about our minds and hearts and psyches and bodies.  Sometimes we don't respond the way we seemingly want ourselves to because old habits are deep grooves in our psyche.  Sometimes its because we are in the same mindset that we've always been in.  And usually the mindset that got us into difficulty is not the same mindset that can get us out.  Even if we say we want to.  We need a new way of looking at how thought works, and how to work with our mind.  We need to start, and restart, and restart and look again and again at where we are really pointed and why.  Even if we think we know.  Especially when we think we know.  If we keep slipping up too much, its a signal that we need to take a look at what we really want. And its sometimes not as simple as it appears.  We sometimes have compelling, innocent, understandable ideas and thought stories that end up ruling our responses, instead of what we say and "know" we should be doing, saying.

All the great techniques and therapies and programs in the world (and there are many!) won't take hold if we are pointed unconsciously in the wrong direction.  And we often are!  And for good reasons! For example, someone who repeatedly picks fights with their spouse and knows they shouldn't or is trying to work on things because they know words and communication and language are so important in creating relationships, may keep engaging in fights anyway.  Someone who wants to stop bingeing may keep doing it even though they think that don't want to.  There are so many examples!

But sometimes, underneath, we have competing reasons.  We are often ashamed of them, or think we should be.  We often think we don't have a right to them, so we can't acknowledge them.  Sometimes our only communication seems like it is through what we are doing, or we, want to be understood, feel right, or feel powerful or understood or avoid emptiness.  Sometimes we feel punitive or we don't want to let someone off the hook.  It's usually anger on top of fear on top of desire.  And we don't give ourselves permission to unpack our motives honestly.   Especially if our mood has slipped out from under us or if we are lacking sleep or nutrients or a place to talk it through.

We can do it though.  We can have mixed motives and forgive ourselves for them. We can take a look at what our priorities really are, where we are pointed, what effect we really want to have and why.  We can do it without shame, without filtering and without letting anyone else off the hook.  There is so much freedom in this, and then we can begin to walk where we want to really be walking.