Each day is supposed to be a new day, filled with new opportunities, and new choices. But for so many of us, each day is a repeat of the one before. We have the same feelings about things, the same responses, the familiar cycle is like a loop – the same song repeating itself over and over, and like in the movie Groundhog Day, we try desperately to remember what we want to do differently, and hope that we can shift things just enough to change the outcome of our day.
We all have patterns that we seem to repeat over and over again. We get stuck in the same cycles day after day and though we reach for thoughts and ways to alter our feelings and outcomes, most of the time we are unsuccessful at effecting change. There are many tricks that one can use to help shift that pattern. One “thought stopping” technique is snapping a rubber band on your wrist. This cognitive behavioral therapy technique is suppose to “snap” you out of your thinking pattern, if of course you remember what you are wearing it for and snap it.
From a psychological perspective, we are programmed to receive and respond to information according to our DNA, our learned behaviors, and our emotional codes. Take a horse as an example. There is a sequence of feelings and thoughts that cue a horse to rear and buck off its rider. At the slightest hint of danger, the horse’s response pattern is to go on alert. Its hair will stand on end, its nostrils will flare, its ears will pin back, and then it will rear and buck. I heard a great story about breaking that cycle. A boy was on a trail ride and the counselor directly behind him noticed that the horse’s ears were pinned back. He screamed and urged the boy to reach up the horse’s neck and push his ears forward. The boy argued, why did he have to do that, and the counselor continued to yell for him to just do it. He did. And instead of that cycle being completed, the mere shifting of those ears broke the programmed pattern of the horse. There was no buck, no rear, and no sense of danger anymore.
I love this example. What if it was that simple for us to interrupt the pattern that undermines our ability to feel joy, or happiness, or love? What are our hot buttons that indicate danger, that signal a blue mood is coming, or make it difficult for us to stand tall with confidence and self-esteem?
We all have these sensory loops. They are our personal set of responses to a given circumstance or feeling about it. And there in lies the crux of these individual patterns that we develop, seemingly for our own safety and protection, but most times out of fear or self-doubt, or some other conditional response that we have owned and integrated into ourselves through time.
I wake up. I feel heat in my stomach. I feel like I am in a bubble, desperately trying to pop it, so that the thin layer of distortion will disappear and I can start my day on a clear, positive note. I immediately go to the emotional place where I left off when I went to sleep. So now already I am tired and cranky and feeling sad. In essence, my ears are pinned back. I noticed one morning when I was feeling that oh so familiar thought pattern, that when I turned on my computer and went on to facebook, and the very first post I saw was, “Here comes Monday! Set your intention for a fantastic week, full of love, joy, blessings and opportunities. Say thank you now for all of the goodness that is flowing your way this week!” that just reading it, the positive energy that it gave to me, shifted my mood and subtly, or not so subtly, lifted my spirit. I was no longer feeling that heaviness that I so often wake to. Now there was something different. I had somehow interrupted my sensory loop and now the outcome, how I would feel and perceive the morning and the day, was altered.
Of course it is sometimes not as simple as seeing a positive inspirational post or quote on facebook or on line. I often find that that is just the first step and that I have to remind myself to stay positive and centered. Mantras, intentions, meditation, and conscious breathing all help me to continue climbing the steps to my potential happiness and joyful day.
Are you able to recognize your emotional loop? What are the things that set your day off on the wrong note? What are your hot buttons? What if you could stop all the dominoes from falling? Breaking your emotional cycles, your personal code, can be simple or challenging, it is your choice. There are many strategies to help you switch tracks so to speak. Consider interrupting your thoughts by snapping a rubber band; simply become aware of your thoughts and stop them by replacing them with a set positive word or thought; visualize something positive and peaceful that immediately takes you out of your set pattern; divert your attention – listen to music, go for a walk, do something that requires your focus; breathe consciously; set intentions or regularly do a specific mantra or affirmation; find a tapping sequence that helps you to change your mindset; try yoga and meditation; dance!
Just like the horse whose ears when flipped forward did not rear, our ears can be flipped forward too. We have the power to break our own emotional codes.