What is the first thing we do when in a new situation? We attempt to anchor ourselves with past information about a similar situation. This is actually harmful to our current ability to manage the current situation appropriately. If our current situation is similar to a prior negative situation, our body will tense up and we can feel ourselves cringing, getting ourselves ready for the negativity to repeat itself. This tenseness and cringing does not serve us, because we become defensive, sometimes in perfectly benign and sometimes in perfectly positive situations. We may even close ourselves off to new incoming feedback that will give us clues to the positivity in this new situation.
What is the first thing we say in a new relationship? “You remind me of ____________” or “My last boyfriend was ___________” or “My last supervisor was _________”. I remember that at one point in my career, I became aware that I was afraid of large blonde haired men. It turned out that they intimidated me because my father is a large blonde haired man. I would snap to attention even though I was the identified supervisor.
No wonder the past plays itself out repeatedly, we are often in the past, in our own heads. From this perspective it is difficult to spring forward into the future. Indeed, historically, it was a survival mechanism to recognize the advance of someone / something harmful. I often think that this is why people take anger so seriously, in a primitive society it was important to run from angry, strong people.
So here we are today, living more precisely by our thinking and our emotion, with much less aggressively physical threats, with no way to re-adjust our brain. While it is important to reference the past when going into a new situation, it is just as important to stay anchored in the present. It is our tendency to hang onto the past that puts us in trouble in the present.
The practice of neutrality is an imperative tool for maturity and is most definitely an excellent tool for managing people.