So one of the people who bought/attended/hung out in the Mindful Sexuality Blanket Fort e-mailed me with some (wonderful) feedback.
Consciously Interrupting a Pattern
One of the things we talked about in the Blanket Fort is consciously interrupting triggering patterns. If doing something starts you into a cycle of pain/shame/fear/anxiety/whatever, then giving yourself conscious permission to ignore it for a while. (In my own life, I avoided mirrors for a year to give myself time to establish more positive patterns with my appearance.)
This gives your brain some time to invest its resources somewhere else, so that when you’re ready to come back to this pattern, it’s already weaker, even before you start shifting it. Plus you use all your time away from the pattern to create more healthy patterns in other areas of your life, and thus other areas of your brain.
Then you look into a mirror again with all your experiences of “I’m attractive” or “I like myself” under your belt, and those patterns are stronger than the old mirror pattern, which has been wasting away. And you get a new mirror pattern, based in “I’m attractive” or “I like myself.”
(I go into a lot more detail on the neuroscience behind this and practical ways it works in the Blanket Fort, but that is the very basic idea.)
Not the same as resistance avoidance
I mentioned that it’s different than avoiding something out of resistance, which is where the pattern is still going on in your brain, strengthening itself and taking up neural resources, but without coming to your full conscious awareness.
Resistance is the least helpful thing when it comes to changing patterns. And it usually shows up as all kinds of dysfunctional distractions that you don’t even enjoy that much but instead use to numb your out your pain. Resistance sucks.
But sometimes you’ve already interrupted the pattern
So anyways, she shared how hard it was for her monsters to hear this, because she is already in a pattern of consciously choosing to avoid something and has been for a while. The last thing she wants to hear is that it’d be a great idea to take more time off from working on it.
And reading that gave me this giant AHA and I really wanted to send her the most massive e-mail in response that starts with “I totally understand where you’re coming from because I feel THE EXACT SAME WAY” and continued with “So what you need to do is…” and ended with “I hope that fixed everything ever in your life.”
Luckily I realized that most of my response had nothing to do with her before I completely jumped into her space all anti-sovereignty like. But I’m super grateful because she helped me wake up to something I really want to talk about.
(And that’s the end of her involvement. I’m not secretly writing this to her or using examples from her life or anything. Because I don’t do that unless people ask. #IFeelStronglyAboutSovereignty)
What do you do when the pattern you’re trying to interrupt is one of avoidance? How do you deal with impatience when things are taking longer to untangle than you’d like?
Say you really want to be involved in a sexy satisfying relationship. And all your relationships in the past have been part of a really destructive pattern of some kind.
The details don’t really matter, but let’s say that your last three relationships have started super amazing, fizzled at about 3 months, and continued for another few months until they slept with someone else without telling you and you found out and broke up with them.
So then you took a break from dating because you didn’t want to be part of that pattern. You interrupted the pattern. But you actually want to be with someone*, so it’s frustrating to just…wait.
*A lot of people who aren’t in relationships really enjoy it and are totally getting what they need. In this example I happen to be talking about someone who genuinely wants to be in a relationship, but not being in one or not being in a particular kind of one is also a really valid way to be. I feel strongly about this!
There are so many patterns here
First let’s look at some of the patterns we’re trying to interrupt. There is the big obvious pattern of “I get with people who are exciting at first and then less exciting and then sleep with people without telling me.” Yay! You shifted that one!
But there are also a bunch of other patterns. There’s the pattern of avoiding relationships to avoid pain (this is the new pattern that is also not satisfying). There’s the pattern of going over the story of your past relationships in your head (which definitely keeps the neural patterns firing and doesn’t let them wither).
There’s all the other places in your life where this pattern is showing up in other forms. Maybe you get in situations where you’re betrayed a lot. Maybe you jump into things and then lose enthusiasm quickly. (These will vary by person, but patterns with underlying similarities will tend to show up with the same emotions. That’s how you recognize they’re connected.)
None of these patterns are necessarily bad or wrong. There’s nothing wrong with you for having them. It’s all legitimate.
And all of the ones listed here happen to include an element of pain. Which is why we’re looking to interrupt them and replace them with something less painful.
Interruptions all around!
So then you start finding ways to interrupt these patterns. Without slipping into resistance mode. That means noticing whenever you’re in one with as little judgement as you can manage. It means looking for little ways other things can be true.
You can start planting seeds for what you want. Dress like the person you’d be if you had a relationship. Ask the Deva of Your Relationship for advice. Connect with the essence of what it means to you to be in a relationship, try to get closer to that feeling each day. Go hang out in the Mindful Sexuality Blanket Fort, which is filled with a bunch more of these ideas.
And when your monsters start yelling that it’s not happening fast enough (also a pattern, and one most of us have), then you thank them for the input, for how much they care about you getting what you need. And you ask them: “if this were going to take ten years and no shorter, would you rather I arrive at ten years from now in a satisfying relationship or not?”
Usually they’ll either realize if it’s worth having, it’s worth having even later than now, or they’ll reveal that they’re actually really frightened of you getting this thing for some reason, and you can talk to them about those fears. (And no, I don’t think it’ll take you ten years. But even if it did, it’d be worth it for something you really want.)
None of which will completely fix your life, of course. But if you’re impatient for something to happen and it’s not happening, some of the above might help.
So yes. That is what I have to say about that.
I’m going to
teach a class hold a Blanket Fort in September on Mindful Sexuality with Other People (or something – it doesn’t have a title yet. I’m really tempted to call it “bumping uglies, the ugly truth,” but I think that’s only funny to me), and it looks like there’s another ebook trying to come out of me for this one too.
I’ve been going a little nuts scribbling everything I know about being in sexual relationships with other people, whether or not it’s a relationship-relationship. And of course, what all that has to do with the relationship between you and you. I was wondering when some of the wordiness would finally spill over into the blog. The answer is today.
Anyways, love you tons!
If you ask me questions about any of this stuff (sex, relationships, patterns, life, the universe, everything) right now, there is a better than average chance you’ll get a response. Just sayin’.