How Your Mind Tries to Keep You Safe
The mind employs various strategies to keep us comfortable, even when what’s “comfortable” is not, in fact, comfortable.
Here are a few common strategies. Check in with yourself — which ones do you use most often?
You mentally or emotionally check out, diverting your attention to your work, to social media, to Netflix, to busyness, to the latest book you must read, the extra hour in the gym, the shiny object, rather than being with how you feel about your current situation or the behavior that is causing you pain.
You may use softeners in your language, dulling your expression of how you really feel.
Someone asks how you are feeling and you say: I’m fine or I’m Ok when you’re anything but fine or ok. Or the situation is not that bad. You’re just annoyed instead of angry.
You write it off as not being part of the divine plan. This sounds like It wasn’t meant to be or It’s happening for a reason.
You focus on gratitude, look at the bright side of things, or look for the “gift in the wound.” Happiness affirmations. Optimism.
Otherwise known as rationalization. You find ways that your situation isn’t as bad as it could be, or you immediately reframe it as a growth opportunity. You focus on what you did accomplish, rather than on the disappointment.
It could be so much worse. Other people have a worse situation. This is a “first world” problem. This will help me grow. I’m failing forward. Look at all the things I did do.
Negating or Rewriting History
You disclaim your desire for it. I didn’t want it anyway. I was going to break up with him anyway. I didn’t really like that job; I’m glad they fired me.
The mind has so many tricks to keep us away from the pain. When it comes to being in the emotions that feel uncomfortable, we are all Houdini — masters of escape.
This is not a knock on positivity
Positivity, gratitude, and optimism are important. It may, in fact, be true that the loss or failure will serve your best interest, or that it was not in the divine plan. It could always be worse. There’s always something to be grateful for, always a silver lining.
And… you’re allowed to be disappointed. You’re entitled to feel a loss. In fact, this is the way to move through it and into the place of resolve. The way you move through the Threshold of Tolerance is to feel the pain, grieve what you lost, and release it.
It’s pretty simple, once you get your mind out of the way.