It's important to know that humans have the same stress hormones and they used to serve us in the same way. We would operate from our senses, experience the stress but the difference between now and then is that we would allow the chemical release to process in our bodies. We would reach homeostasis.
Think back to cave days- you’d be out looking for snacks and so would a saber tooth tigger… next thing you know you’d be running for your life, literally, back to the cave so you wouldn’t get eaten. Upon return you’d allow the hormones and stress to surge through your system and release. Your nervous system didn’t download the data because you allowed it to run its course through your body. You didn’t store it.
you would lay there and breathe, feel your heart racing and think about the fact that you were, alive.
You wouldn’t call your bestie to lament and relive the story 5times.
It was all quite factual. You didn’t make it mean ANYTHING else. You didn’t think, well, I can never leave the cave again. That wasn’t an option. Survival was the only option. You probably concluded you were not alone out there and you’d have to be careful or you could get eaten so maybe next time we exit left, not right… All fax. No printer.
In modern times, we are not being chased by anything, but we still experience these levels of stress and chemical releases in our everyday interactions. The brain still thinks life or death if we aren’t being conscious to some of the experiences.
and The biggest difference is that we don’t process these experiences in our bodies but instead collect the data, store the stress and download it to our brains.
We attach images and start operating with this new information in mind…. And we re live it…. We talk about it with our friends, we think about it over and over- it defines us. And then informs how we show up. We are operating from this pattern or behavior in present situations that usually have nothing to do with that specific experience.
In the life coaching world, we like to stay out of the past as much as possible. It’s all about forward thinking and focus. Be aware and present.
However, I think one of the most important things you can do is identify your patterns and behaviors. What I mean by that is, recognize in your life when you feel stress WHERE you’ve felt that same sense of stress. If you take the time, you may recognize a common theme.
I have a client who is hyper type A, lives by her calendar and is incredibly organized. She cannot for the life of her understand why her partner doesn’t have a calendar. It’s literally offensive to her. She had to take over- get her a calendar and schedule all the things on it.
Another time she mentioned that her ex would ask her for confirmation numbers for the trips that he booked. She’d be so annoyed. How can he not have the information- he did it! But she would send him the info…. Begrudgingly
More recently she was discussing someone who invited her to a group dinner.
When my client called the restaurant to ask what the menu options were, she found out that it was pre fixe dinner and that it was sold out. She couldn’t believe someone would suggest a get together and not do the research… She reached out to the group and the woman who initiated it and told them they couldn’t go that night- she was furious- and then spent the time booking the next available date and sending the info to everyone.
And there’s more- in high school and college- people who couldn’t stay organized and follow through-
I asked her why she was so frustrated that others were quote un quote disorganized in her life.
Because it messes up my schedule- I have to do all the work for them.
Is that true?
Yes, I have no choice. I have to.
So you’re telling me, that these people are making you do all of this? They told you you have to Send them confirmation numbers, organize the dinner?
Well no. no one asked me or said anything … No one is making me.
So it’s a choice?
If I don’t who will?
That’s not the question. Do you see how you are choosing to do this? To be this person?
pause. Breathe. sigh.
okay. Then why are you mad at everyone else?
After this we sat and explored the story and behavior -
I asked her if she wasn’t angry at her ex for all the things he did, and it was just her son’s father / maybe even friend- and he asked her for a booking number, in this moment, how would she respond?
She said she would happily send it, but made a point to mention, that s just not the way it is for us…
and do you know why? I asked?
Because of all the things he did…
No. because of all the thoughts you have about the things he did. And you relive it every time you think about him and interact with him.
The emotional surge is familiar. You’re acting it out with those around you… It’s not new…
you are picking other people And experiences to relive this emotional pattern that you’ve been operating from most of your life. And you’re blaming everyone else for you having to do take care of them and for making you feel this way.
If you aren’t present when making decisions then you are likely, subconsciously, making them based on your past recreating the same stories (life experience) over and over again.
The people places and things may change, but your emotions and behaviors are recycled.
Once you recognize the patterns and story you are telling yourself, identify why you are choosing to show up that way. You can decide if you want to continue being that way.
You guys all know that last year I recognized that I had been treating my dating life like it was a career. I have been boy crazy, basically always. And we all know that I decided that it wouldn’t be my focus. My work would be. One of the things I did was decide I wouldn’t spend my day texting and talking with guys. Work would be first. At first it was tricky. Learning how to not respond and not freak out about what they might think… etc. Then it was like crickets.
Around 6 weeks in I got a text from a guy during the day and it was quite flirty and my fucking brain went rocket high with dopamine.
I had to laugh at myself. I was like really? That’s all it takes?
I recognized my involuntary response and chose to respond later when I wasn’t busy.
After some time, I got through the dopamine withdrawals.
Pretty soon, it was not a thing. I had a few people I'd engage with but it didn’t interfere with my life and priorities.
It was casual and fine and fun…
But then something happened. I’m not sure what, but suddenly I was having several conversations with several people. I was stressing out about each of them… their expectations. Their needs. Suddenly I felt like I was in some sort of polyamorous dating life…
I WAS SUPER FUCKING STRESSED.
I didn’t like it! But couldn’t figure out why I was so bothered. I got present with myself.
And then I was like, oh yah, because you don’t do this anymore. Your attention is not on dating and men.
I made the decision then to have a few conversations letting people know that I wasn’t interested in engaging on text or looking for anything serious at this time and put a stop to it.
The old pattern of texting with several people and managing those conversations and their expectations is no longer familiar and it’s not aligned with how I want to feel.
A quick re-cal and I’m back on track. It took being present to stop the pattern and takes being present to insure the new one.
This is why it’s good to understand how our brains work AND practice awareness.
Listen up, Renegades, the past can inform you in a positive way. 2 thumbs up for not having to look up directions every fucking time we go to the store… 2 thumbs down for not wanting to ever date again because the last person cheated on you and now you don’t trust anyone.
Referring to your past can benefit you. No doubt… but we humans usually focus on the drama and subconsciously let it drive our decision making.
The stories, memories and identity that you are holding onto is holding you back from creating the life you want.
And Simply put, they are excuses. It’s another way for us to abdicate responsibility.
This is why getting present, aware and conscious of your thinking is crucial. Do you want to micromanage people and their schedule's? Yes or No? Does it make you feel good? Yes or no. and decide from there. And lastly, own your decision. If it doesn’t work out the way you planned, its OKAY. Move on.
if you can practice being present and making decisions from a place that is less about before - remove all the drama - and start thinking and feeling in a new way, you might actually surprise yourself.
being present also gives your mind a break. How many times a day do you check in with your thoughts, your breathing and practice mindfulness?
I like to do this through out the day. I’ll notice when I don’t feel right…All I have to do is ask myself, what were you just thinking about? What did you just see? I examine my mind.
When making decisions, I tune in. I observe all the information coming my way to inform me. The first few layers are always very primal/safe/recycled - stay safe in the cave and don’t die reasons as to why I should or shouldn’t.
I like to thank my brain -I tell it, your opinion is noted. Per usual you’re cute, but no that has nothing to do with right now and none of that is happening… and I keep excusing the thoughts until I’m in a clean and clear headspace.
AND THEN and this is the most important part, like aftercare, I don’t beat myself up if it didn’t work out a certain way. I take responsibility for my decision. I’m accountable and there is no one to blame… I’m back on the couch chilling until SQUIRREL!
If it’s from a place of no judgement, of yourself or others how can you show up?
If There have been no mistakes and There will be no mistakes how will you decide?
This is freedom, Renegades.
Practice being totally present when making your decisions and own them. Isn’t this why we wanted to grow up and be the adults? So we could make our own choices and create the lives we wanted? It is. Now go do it.