10 August 2011

: Veronica Torres

It’s Tool Tuesday. Every Tuesday I share one of ’s tools for .

Today’s Tool is: Concurrent and cascading , two different patterns that follow in response to triggers.

With cascading fears, the is followed by a train of fears that are similar. A classic example is when somebody cuts you off on the freeway. You react with, “Didn’t he see me?&; Then the train of cascading fears starts to form. You might next move to the pain you felt when you were “not seen&; and passed over for promotion, then to the suffering you experienced when you were “not seen&; and not invited to the prom. Before you are even aware of it, you’re reliving being five years old and upset because someone took your wagon because they didn’t “see you&; playing with it.

Cascading fears connect experiences in the present to experiences scattered throughout your history. Not only does this result in you suffering over and over again, but it never allows you to actually attend to what the initial trigger was.

During this cascading fear pattern, you may hear the voice of an authority figure from your childhood narrating the entire sequence. That is a way to alert yourself to the pattern.

You tend to have “favorite” cascading fear patterns that you turn to even if the initial triggers are quite varied. When you catch yourself in this fear pattern, gently remind yourself to come back to the , choose to stay in the , and allow yourself to become more conscious about your reaction to the initial trigger.

In the case of concurrent fears, the trigger is followed by a train of fears on completely different subjects, each of the fears pertaining to your current experiences rather than going into past experiences.

This pattern is typically used when you are dealing with the top triggers: Money, sex, , housing, relationships, health. You find yourself triggered by one of these and rather than becoming conscious of the trigger and using it for your growth, you jump to the next subject. You take the triggered state with you and find something to be triggered about with the next subject.

This jumping from subject to subject and trigger to trigger is full of suffering. It makes it very difficult to actually transform any one situation. You never stay with it long enough to change it. Concurrent fears can leave you feeling like your life is full of problems and you are unable to cope with any of them.

As an example of concurrent fears, let’s say you’re worried about your marriage. Thinking about your marriage is too triggering, so you jump to thinking about your job. You think about your job until that is too triggering, then you jump to worrying about your heath, and on it goes. Nothing ever changes. Even the thoughts you have about each of these subjects are unchanging. You simply use the hamster-wheel mind to continue to run in circles. Suffering is the result.

The key is to pick one subject and stick with it long enough to bring consciousness to it. The pattern will try to draw you away from that one subject, but choose and choose again to stick with it, past the discomfort you are feeling.

You are looking for new information, but new information doesn’t come from rehashing old thoughts, it comes from insight. When you apply consciousness to one subject you can actually be in the moment with it long enough to get to the “aha.”
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Veronica writes:
I think this tool gets the award for the tool with the most awkward name. We never did come up with a more clever way to say it. This one is really helpful in alerting you to patterns of habitual fears. I don’t know how many times I have done that: trigger in the moment and all of a sudden I’m five again thing. Being aware of these patterns really helped me change them.

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For me, this tool combines well with “What is true now?” tool. When I find myself spinning off into the past or projecting into the future, I can stop myself short if I just remind myself that what is true now has nothing to do with either the past or the future. It’s especially obvious to me when I’m worried about money and just switch over to worrying about my health, with no break in between! I’ll know that these concurrent fears are just my hamster-wheel thinking taking me out of the moment, where my conscious self would actually rather be.
—Claire