There is an easy on-ramp in my neurological pathway that I call the “highway to hell.”
Have you ever gone the wrong way down the highway and there’s no exit off for miles and miles? And dammit! you missed the turn-around, the one only for Troopers that we use anyway, doing 70 with someone on your ass. You’re running late too.
That’s my highway to hell feeling: missing out on something, traveling in the wrong direction, time running out, not enough, fear of loss…
I can feel it kick-in.
To use another metaphor, it’s like the old lizard brain makes an all-call over the PA with instructions to upgrade everything that was “important” into something “URGENT!!!!!” And due tomorrow.
Once that barn is on fire, I turn grumpy, make rash decisions and have no patience. Forget about kindness towards the people I love most. Often my children. After I see that I made them feel bad, I beat myself up about it. It’s terrible and unproductive.
That’s why I call it the highway to hell. Because it is, and it clouds my thinking. I’m not at my best when I flip the blinker toward the on-ramp to hell.
I don’t analyze it anymore.
I don’t need to talk about it endlessly. I don’t try to stop it from happening. To the contrary, I need it to happen. It’s my cue. It’s the trigger that alerts me to begin breaking the pattern.
Since it’s a habit, or a neurological pathway that has strength, I have to interrupt the pattern. Because it is strongly ingrained, and I have to completely change direction in order to avoid that perpetual escalation. This I have learned, is crucial because – it’s the same with any habit – there needs to be a new pattern of thinking, feeling, behaving that must be created, and in order to do so, I know that I must first annihilate the old pattern.
I use exercise for this. I trust exercise. It’s my go-to.
Right now, it takes me about 15 minutes to drop myself to my knees. It usually begins with burpees. Often ends with planks. A lot of squat hops in the middle. the other day, it involved a kettle bell.
To be specific, I used this exact workout. See the picture below.
#NoGymJanuary for me.
Besides a kettle bell, I’m not gonna touch a weight. I’m more interested in eating greens and proteins, getting a full night’s sleep and prioritizing 15 minutes a day, five days a week… for now, for January.
This month, I’m focused on routine, good sleeping and eating habits and body weight strength. This is my stability. If I don’t have these basics down, then I won’t hit the gym with the right frame of purpose. I’m looking at the year of body positivity, with focus on scaffolding each month.
My goal with this workout is to rip through it like a crazed pitbull. All out, no breaks, just high intensity three minutes at a time. Then adding on one calisthenic each three minute cycle until I’m doing all of them.
This is not mystical.
This is what I actually DO. This is not magic. This is how change in the world, in my life, happens. Has happened. This is how I a pattern can be broken.
My off-ramp is much stronger now (and so am I). If at first, I was with a machete in hand, finding my way off through the messy jungle. Now, it’s at least hard gravel. The road has been warn. I have rerouted some of the old neurological pathway.
At least, I can say, this is what happens to me. But maybe it can work for you too.
We all have to both drop ourselves to the floor, and then pick ourselves up from the floor – all the better for it.