You are talking with your friend and friend or a coworker and at first things seem relaxed and mellow but then their expression changes. Their jaw tightens, they glaze over and we start to wonder “uh oh, what is that about?” Or maybe we are on our way somewhere and our partner really needs us to be there on time and we hit a row of orange barrels that slows everything down and our phone is out of juice. CRAP!! Now everything is a disaster! I’m gonna be late and they are gonna be pissed and then …
We carry on this way all of the time. It can seem sometimes that this is our defacto way of living. Something happens and we get hooked by it and it reels us in. It can be the smallest thing and before we know it we are being yanked into the boat again. It could even be something that reminds us of when we were growing up and that thing happend and and… We are 25 years ago in a different place and a different time.
It might not be easy to describe but we all know what it feels like to be hooked something. Particularly if we have ever been through traumatic experiences or have PTSD. The hooks might feel like they are going to be the end of us. We hear a loud noise, or the smell of a particular cologne and it feels like the terror is creeping in. Even small things that seem to have a grip on us and it can feel like we can’t breathe or escape.
This feeling of being hooked thrives on the underlying sense of everything in our world is always changing. We would like to have it smooth where our partner always was good to us, that nothing to shocking would happen, but somehow there is a constant background of uneasiness that we know they won’t stay the way that we would like.. The usual way that we deal with this is to try to find something to distract us from what is happening. It might be food, sex, drinking, different emotions, doubting ourselves, or obsessing about other people. Just about anything. All of these things might be attractive at times and bring some enjoyment in moderation. The issue is that being distracted and numbing out doesn’t always work in the long term and can cause further problems. The background of discomfort is still there though and as we try to further relieve our discomfort with them they in themselves bind us further. In some cases we can become addicted to the thing that was giving us relief.
I have an old friend who has a really hard time with anger. It is his hook. He knows it’s pattern well, but has a hard time when it gets to him. He feels slighted or hurt and then reacts like a cornered wolverine. Sometimes it feels so intense for him that he feels that he wants to throw everything away. Burn down the world and run off to a place where he doesn’t have to deal with anything. When he calls I can hear his stress reaction throwing into overdrive. After a while of venting I can here the point in his voice when his system starts to relax and then he feels bad for the things he said and did earlier. Afterward he feels a lot of regret for it and has to make amends with those around him. He knows the pattern well but finds it hard to change.
Sometimes we wonder what we should do with our negative thoughts or our troubling emotions. The thing is that if we are willing to change our attitude toward them and being able to stay with them then we can try to learn to see them in an unbiased way. We might notice then there is less wrestling with them. When our attitude changes then the atmosphere of our mind changes as well. As we become more agreeable, we slow down and stop stirring the pot then things begin to settle. The nervous habit energy that had a hold of us loosens up.
There are ways that you can try working with whatever it is that hooks you. Here are a few practical tips that you can try when you are starting to feel caught up and that might help you when you feel like you are going to get hauled in the boat. They are a way of dealing with things in real time instead of an going over them after they have happened.