“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
One of my favorite quotes.
Sometimes we think that if it did not work in first place, we just need more of the same (emphasis, arguments …) to make it happen. Our view on the situation remains the same – and is very often ignoring our contribution to it. This way, we kill the possiblity of being able to be the changemakers.
Sometimes we got stuck because we don’t want to look.
Leaving “the old” also means admitting that it did not work – and to accept the (unpleasant) feelings that might be connected with this insight.
In the article “Emotion or Intuition”; I wrote that our emotions and feelings provide us with important hints if we are aware of and in contact with them.
However, the first step is to be willing to get in touch with your feelings.
Sometimes we consciously shy away from this contact because we don’t know how to deal with them or even feel overwhelmed. In a way, this is also a protective mechanism when we are actually swamped by a situation.
However, if this protective mechanism becomes the new normal, it can lead to unspecific troubles (pain, demotivation, bad mood without having a subjective a reason) – because feelings do not go away, they just go elsewhere. And it also can lead to getting stuck – things are repeating and we do not progress at all. Then we often start to direct our frustration inwards or to give it air – usually with inappropriate intensity.
If this is the case, it’s time to take a look and check whether you are applying avoidance or diversionary tactics. Progress will only become possible once you start to perceive, label and accept what is going on inside yourself.
Acceptance is the beginning of change.
If the following two strategies, which we commonly apply to avoid dealing with our feelings, sound familiar to you, you might want to rethink – and re-feel – some situations in the future:
Intellectualizing: As soon as a conversation with your counterpart becomes unpleasant, you switch to analyzing and teaching why the other behaves the way he behaves. This intellectualization = objectification creates emotional distance and it’s as well an elegant way to change the (unpleasant) topic (from the original topic to the behavior and conversation analysis.)
Blaming: You find 1001 reasons what others could and should do differently to change the situation (welcome to the victim role …).
Projection: You begin to impute to and accuse your counterpart of behaviors and emotions that you actually perceive and show yourself. But since you think these behaviors are inadequate, you do not want to admit them to yourself. (What I tell about others always tells much more about me than about the others …)
Media: Instead of dealing with the situation, person or your feelings, you distract yourself with media – television, mobile phone, laptop …
Activities: You hurry from one experience to the next – no break = no time for unpleasant feelings.
Eating & drinking: You suddenly need chocolate or you need alcohol to “switch off”. The sugar causes your insulin level to rise, which in turn leads to an increased release of the happiness hormone dopamine, while alcohol literally numbs you.
Addictions: Everything you do excessively, to an exaggerated degree. This can range from sport to smoking to all kinds of consumption (including consumption and activities). It also includes bad habits like nail-biting.
Why don’t you take a closer look this week to see whether you recognize one of the behaviors mentioned above – and whether it is your strategy to avoid or numb your feelings inside. And if so, start to slowly give these feelings space.