Imagine you’re dating someone you really care about, and you see your magical connection growing into a bright, happy future together.
Imagine that your romantic partner suddenly stops being as affectionate as usual.
Or they enter a busy period, when they have less time to be with you.
Or they miss a perfect chance to show their appreciation and make you feel loved.
When someone you care about makes you doubt they care about you, what do you do?
Do you instantly push them away before they disappoint you again?
Do you start fights or stop being affectionate?
Do you test their love to prove that they love you?
Do you break up with them, if they fail your love test?
Do you wish they would fight to win back your love, instead of accepting the breakup?
If any of this sounds familiar, you may be sabotaging love and marriage without even knowing it. You may be unaware of your patterns or habits that cause the same old issues with each romantic partner. Why?
You’re hooked in shenpa. And you need to discover how to get unhooked if you want to break the dead-end dating cycle of passionate startups and impulsive breakups of what might have become a great relationship.
So what is shenpa?
I learned about this from meditation expert, Pema Chodron, in a series of lectures. My layman’s explanation of shenpa is getting hooked by your hot button issues and having an automatic, often unconscious response of anger or fear to a certain thing that someone says, does, or neglects to do to you.
When someone pushes your shenpa hot button, you respond with a knee-jerk reaction, like lashing out or breaking up. Think of it as an old trauma reflex that prevents future wounding, because you unconsciously build a wall of defense against the trigger behavior that makes you feel anxious, afraid, unloved, insecure, unworthy, maybe even a little crazy.
What is trigger behavior?
The trigger behavior includes words, actions, or neglected actions in a partner that get you hooked in a fearful shenpa response.
Trigger behavior isn’t a serious offense like criminal or abusive actions, which never should be tolerated. It’s smart to break up when you discover serious character flaws.
Trigger behavior can be a perceived slight or oversight from your romantic partner that instantly hooks you where it hurts and may cause you to break things off with a wonderful partner who has no idea what they did wrong.
How do you get unhooked from shenpa?
The Dalai Lama says the best way to break an unwanted habit is to replace it with something better. To accomplish this, your first step is to identify your hot button triggers and your habitual shenpa response.
Take a moment to ponder the top two or three things a romantic partner says, does, or neglects to do that gets you hooked in fear, doubt, anger, anxiety. Jot them down.
Now that you are aware of your shenpa hot buttons and hooks, your next step is to choose a different response to the trigger behavior, each time someone presses your hot buttons. How?
Pay attention to moments when you start feeling insecure because your romantic partner isn’t in to you, or you get afraid they may be leaving you. Then imagine yourself soaring up to a bird’s eye view of your situation. From your lofty perch, do this:
* Observe your fears or wounded feelings that arise when your partner behaves like this, without judgement.
* Be fascinated by how their simple action can trigger such a strong response in you.
* Feel love for that fearful part of you, just like a parent loves a vulnerable child.
* Imagine what your partner may be going through to make them behave this way.
* Consider if they have issues at work, challenges with their health, family, or finances
* Consider if they may need your compassion, tenderness or a little extra support to get through this
* Consider if their distracted behavior may be all about them, and nothing about you
* Decide not to leap to conclusions about what motivates their behavior, without discussing your concerns calmly.
* Invite them to discuss any concerns you have about each other.
What if they’re not open to this discussion?
It shows you they’re not on your love wavelength. Unless that changes, they may not be a compatible match long term.
And if they are open to this discussion, how do you make it a win-win connection?
See if you each will agree to identify and avoid behaviors that trigger fearful insecurities, and choose better behaviors that bring out your best.
Once you uncover your unconscious shenpa hot buttons, you can be thankful they showed you which old wounds, fears, doubts, limiting beliefs or habits were sabotaging love and marriage. Now you consciously choose new love habits of happy couples to create a life and relationship you love.
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