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?
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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.
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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?