So long ago that I don’t remember when—or frankly where—I got this idea, I heard about a process to help us get some traction on moving forward from big wadded up messes. I’ve been suggesting this idea to several clients lately, so I decided it was time for a blog!
We all get stuck in ‘loops’ regarding traumatic issues. It can seem like we just keep circling, and circling, and then circling yet again. Going over and over the old stuff. It’s not just that it’s exhausting — it’s ineffective, and it keeps us from moving forward.
Yes, some things are just really hard to deal with. They just keep haunting us. Those things that stand in our way have a story behind them—a tale of what happened, all the circumstances, who said what to whom, what the weather was… it goes on and on. Additionally, a lot of this kind of situation is really old stuff. It includes things from childhood, relationships, money, etc.
The solution for how to stop stirring the pot and get moving to some new thoughts and choices lies in neural science. Here’s the fundamental problem: When you start thinking about the issue, you ‘activate’ the neural pathway that all the details and circumstances are parked in. As you think of one bit of the problem, all sorts of other things come to mind. Soon you get totally swamped, just like “when you are up to your ass in alligators, you forget that the purpose was to drain the swamp!”
The solution is to put all the alligators… um, circumstances, issues, details, etc… around the issue in a container. Yes, imagine some kind of container. It could be a safe with a big heavy door, an old chest with a lock, a file cabinet, whatever you want. The point is to put all the details somewhere.
The next step is to have a name for the container. Be thoughtful about this name. It’s a tool to help you refer to ALL the stuff in the container without having to reopen and look at it. Don’t pick a name that’s going to cause you to go into all the details again. Also be careful to not pick a name that’s going to create unnecessary angst in a different direction. It’s the difference between “the time the car broke down” and “the time the car broke down on the way to grandma’s house” — you really, don’t want to reactivate it your head every time you go to her house!
Now that you have the mess nicely contained—and aren’t looking at the gators—you can do the important thinking to move forward. You can get strategic, you can make plans, you can come up with new and maybe even different ideas—all without being sucked in by the details and circumstances because they are tucked nicely away in your container. Later you can always go reopen the container and revisit what happen if you want to.
Meanwhile, You can have a clear head without distraction to focus on moving forward. Whew! What a relief that will be.
Shell Tain, the Untangler
If you’d like to some support in making room to change give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.