Hooked on a Feeling

hooks in water, maggie mcreynolds blog“I’ve just got a bad temper.”
“I can’t remember the last time I was happy.”
“My life is in constant turmoil—it’s like there’s got to be some drama going on.”
“I’ve always been afraid to try new things.”
“Things never work out for me. Life is passing me by.”

Sound like you or someone you know?

When statements come packed with absolutes—always, just, never, got to—it’s a good bet the speaker is hooked, caught like a fish at the end of a line by their own pain. They’ve felt angry, or sad, or scared, or out of control for so long, they believe these feelings to be part of their core identity, often never getting in touch with the root thoughts that created them in the first place.

Breaking the cycle can be as easy as asking one word: why?

“I’ve just got a bad temper.”
“Because, I don’t know, I’m just really impatient.”
“Because I never get to do the things I want to do.”
“Because . . . there’s too much other stuff going on!”
“Because I never say no to anybody.”
“Because I want everyone to like me.”
“Because I don’t like myself.”
“Because I’m a terrible person, I don’t deserve to be happy.”

Ah. Now we’re getting somewhere. Now that the thought is out there, squirming uncomfortably on the table, we can play with it. Poke it gently. Find out all the ways in which it isn’t true. Find a new thought, the flip-side—“I deserve to be happy”—one that makes the speaker feel peaceful and hopeful, instead of enraged.

What actions might we be capable of if we felt we deserved to be happy? How much kinder might we be to ourselves—and even to others, having released them from the burden of being responsible for trying to fix us?

Sometimes, others try and hook us—what most of us call punching our buttons. Is that true? Can someone punch our buttons? Yep—but only if we allow access to them. So any thought that begins “she/he just makes me so…” is just a plain old fat lie. No one makes us feel anything. We choose. Every time.

It all begins with awareness. When we are aware that we’ve been hooked by a thought, and then hooked on the feeling that springs from it, we can choose different thoughts, different beliefs about ourselves and the world all around us.

And when that happens? Oh, baby, oh—then you can find some really cool feelings to get hooked on: patience…compassion…empathy…love.

Ooga chocka, ooga ooga, ooga chocka.

Just sayin’.

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