Never Underestimate the Inclination to Bolt

In her book The Places that Scare You, Pema Chödrön shares “Never under estimate our inclination to bolt when we hurt.”

Reading those words, I realised it didn’t matter if you used the word bolt, escape, run, leave, disappear, vanish, leave, quit or fly the coop. It all meant the same thing.

It meant when situations or experiences get uncomfortable for human beings and we are hurting, we want to leave or pretend the situation is not happening.


Patterns of Bolting…

When I started inquiring in to my life, I quickly realised I was no different. I learnt that when I got uncomfortable or thought something was too big for me to handle – I tried to escape. Yes, I tried to escape the challenging situations and feeling what was occurring in the moment and bolt.

Some of the challenging situations or areas in my life I wanted to avoid included – not knowingthe fear of failing, embracing my imperfectionreceiving criticism, wanting acceptance and approval, my money situation, speaking up and sharing my opinion (just to name a few).

When I started to develop greater insight in to those situations, I realised there were a number of ways I used to escape from the experience or situation. These strategies included working excessive hours, eating lots of chocolate or foods that don’t nourish my body, depriving myself of things I truly needed, blaming other people for my situation, excessive exercise (remember I was a professional tennis player), comparing myself to others, shopping (when I didn’t need to), distracting myself, retreating and/or staying silent (for many reasons).

Other strategies clients have shared with me over the years to avoid situations include eating when not hungry, excessive surfing of the internet, gossiping, watching reality TV to excess or drinking excessively.

Throughout many hours of inquiry, reflection and mindfulness practice I started to realise there was another way and it didn’t involve bolting…


Having the Courage to Stay…

This other way involved staying. It involved finding the courage to stay and recognise what is truly going on in this moment. Yes, it required investigation and being with what arises (i.e the feelings and discomfort). And, it required vulnerability.

To stay meant I was willing to be with the vulnerability. I was willing to feel in to the unknown… trust my intuition… have the difficult conversations, let other people experience their own experiences and stay in my own business.

It meant questioning what I didn’t understand, giving without expectation, loving unconditionally, speaking up, feeling what I was actually feeling (even when I didn’t want to), asking for what I needed and being myself.

When the inclination to bolt arises within, I have to remind myself to stay.

To stay, be with the vulnerability and trust. Trust I have everything I need to be able to handle the experience or situation. Sometimes I still forget to stay, however I then begin again in the next moment. Because if I don’t stay – who knows what I might be missing?


Over to You…

When do you have the inclination to bolt? Feel free to share your experiences below in the comments section.


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?


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