I used to look at certain people and wonder if they’d ever had a broken heart. I felt that I, as a sensitive person, somehow had this unique cross to bear on this planet, since I seemed to always FEEL my feelings.
But now, I know better. I know enough about what it means to be human to know that we all have had our hearts broken at some point–whether it was by a person or an event. We just receive and interpret pain in different ways.
Which leads me to this really fascinating Tibetan concept I just learned about called shenpa. Shenpa is YOUR HOOK. And it’s not a good one. It’s rooted in our egos. It’s that part in some of our pain stories where we had to make a choice. And we chose a behavior or a thought that led us to darkness instead of light.
Darkness can be worry. Darkness can be fear. Darkness can be an addiction. Darkness can be self-righteous indignation. Whatever it is–it’s not our best selves. We go to that HOOK–that place–so we don’t have to feel the discomfort and pain.
Not too long ago, I realized that shenpa occurs for me in the context of rejection. And I HATE that that’s my shenpa, but it is. I hate it because it’s such a common part of life.
But you guys, rejection hits me right in the gut. Both literally and figuratively. Many times when I have felt rejected, I have actually felt nausea. I also wanted to control the situation while feeling out of control emotionally. Rejection has a history of taking me on a train ride that feels like shit. And once I get on that ride, I am the passenger in a car that is going a hundred miles an hour without a destination until I crash and burn. And then I eventually get over it. But not really. Because I may do the same thing again but in a different scenario.
Rejection is my oldest wound. I could probably fill this blog entry with 500 stories about the times I felt the sting of rejection growing up; but I kinda feel like I would be deflecting from what I really want to tell you, which is this: I learned you can actually slow down and stop the shenpa.
Isn’t that awesome? And this is how it looks when it happens and you decide to stop it.
You are in a situation and you feel the HOOK coming on–the panic. The fear. The anger. Whatever it is—but you don’t pull the cord or take the bait. You just pause and say, “Hold up here. I am not getting on that train yet.” And you just distance yourself slightly and look at that damn shenpa and you recognize–omg–THIS IS IT. This is shenpa.
And that right there is half the battle. You call shenpa’s bluff and you slow it the heck down. In that moment you don’t start thinking you hate yourself or that you hate another person. Or you don’t smoke that cigarette or drink that drink or go have sex or stuff cake in your mouth.
Instead, you simply say, “Oh my God. I can feel it. It’s my hook wanting to be baited.”
And then you feel the pain, instead of letting yourself engage in those negative behaviors or stories you have told yourself you need to tell for so long.
I actually stopped shenpa once. Now let’s just hope I can do it again. (Since I sometimes forget what I’ve learned).
I was in the nail salon getting a pedicure not too long ago. As I was sitting there, I engaged in a texting conversation with a man I really liked. For whatever reason, I had developed somewhat of an attachment to this person. I felt like our connection was unique and saw what I thought were many positive characteristics in him that I selfishly wanted for myself. But anywho, as I’m asking him a question that was not personal in nature, but rather a factual discussion, he suddenly (felt sudden to me, anyways) wrote that he wanted me to “knock it off” because a particular comment I had made, caused him to feel angry and that he no longer wanted to converse with me.
So basically… he shut the conversation down. He stopped all communication. And I FELT THE SHENPA. And here’s what the shenpa said, “Don’t let him reject you! If he’s rejecting you, you have no value! You can’t let it happen. Stop it! Text him back! Say sorry! DO SOMETHING!!! Convince him you didn’t mean to make him angry! Convince him that this was a misunderstanding!”
Shenpa feels like fear to me. Like anxiety. Like my throat may close up.
But this time–somehow–I recognized it and refused to get on board. And you know what happens when you refuse to get on board? You don’t feel zen–no, no, no–you feel OTHER emotions.
When I decided to not get on board, I re-read his words, and my eyes filled up with tears. This time, I felt pain. Not fear.
Wow, this hurts, I thought. And to top it off, the tears wouldn’t stop falling and I was in this damn nail salon.
“I have such terrible allergies,” I said to the amazingly kind woman doing my nails.
She nodded knowingly.
And that was it guys. I felt really, really sad. I liked this guy. It hurt to hear him say, “I don’t want to converse with you anymore,” (which is his right, by the way, and I’m thankful he was able to say what he felt.)
But that was it. I stopped the train. I felt the pain. And then I went on. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
Here’s Aliana reinacting how to stop shenpa:
Well kind of, anyways.