The story I'm making up

As I go deeper and deeper into my degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy - Buddhist Psychology combined with the perspective of Western Neuroscience and Contemporary Psychotherapy. It becomes so interesting to me to understand the evolution of our mind while creating a parallel with all the Buddhist Psychology teachings, for instance exploring why we get locked in survival mode, what are the roots and the habitual approaches.

I know this is a very extensive, complex and detailed topic, however if we look through the lens of mindfulness, the perspective starts to get lighter and wider and as my teacher Joe Loizzo explains: “An unexamined or mindless life locked in survival mode is filled with all kinds of preventable suffering. Most of us know by now that most of the things we think, feel and do are the product of conditioning and habit rather than acts of consciousness. Most the time, this is all good and actually quite helpful, otherwise we would have to master every activity that goes into our daily life over and over again. The problem is, when conditions change or we face a challenge for which our habitual tools are no match, we are often unwilling or unable to override them and try something new. The problem is worse when we discover belatedly that what we’ve learned turns out to be self defeating, but feel so stuck in our rut that we can’t seem to change it. Locked in the survival mode of stress and trauma, our minds and brains revert to a primitive “safe mode” in which we shut down reflection and fall back on the most reflex instincts and habits, mindlessly digging our heels in and holding for dear life”

This topic brings me to mind a very practical exercise Brene Brown teaches so brilliantly in one of her books which is “The Story I’m Making Up”, if we apply this inquiry and ask ourselves “what is the story i’m making up” about a situation or about our thoughts or emotions when we’re aware and recognize the feeling of being locked in our survival mode/ primitive brain, we can work our way through the story we’re creating in the background. Shifting us from a defensive armored state to slowly opening and letting our guard down so we can look deeper into what is the story we are holding on to sustain the unaware default mode we often find ourselves in, which just keeps looping us around in a pattern of the same situation over and over again. She says “It’s much easier to say “I don’t give a damn” than it’s to say “I’m hurt”. The ego likes blaming, finding fault, making excuses, inflicting paybacks and lashing out, all of which are forms of self-protection. The ego doesn’t own stories or want to write new endings”. By looking honestly into what the story is behind our actions and our thoughts we can honor what we feel and take ourselves out of the victimhood state. Ultimately, we have more choices.  


Mari Chin