The Auto-pilot Trances

4 Jan

IMG_1157The Auto-pilot Trance is something that affects all of us. A lot of people get offended or upset by the idea of living their lives at the effect of trances. But, you do it. I do it. We all do it.

For example, if you are a cat person and you see a cute kitten, you might go automatically into the “kitty trance” and speak to the feline from that trance: “Oh what a cute little kitty! Oh, you are so soft and furry! Look at you!”

Or, there’s the baby trance: “Oh, my! What a cute little baby! Hello, Baby! Hi! Hi! Peek-a-boo! Can you play Peek-a-boo? Look at me! Look at me! Oh! You looked! I see you, too!” These are automatic ways of responding in situations stimulated by cats or babys you’ve never met before. They are innocuous “trances.” Recognize yourself in any of these?

These are innocuous enough. But, this idea of trances run deep and wide in our everyday actions and impacts our choices in more ways than acting cute around cats and children. So, it’s useful to understand how these responses formed.

Well, for one, maybe someone spoke to you like that when you were a baby and you saw that goo-goo-gaa-gaa behavior repeated many times by other grown-ups as you grew up. By the time you became an adult, this way of interacting was so deeply ingrained that it feels instinctive and natural, almost impossible to restrain yourself when you see a cute baby and want to talk to it to not talk like that.

We have all kinds of trances. The mother/father trance, man trance, kid trance, pet trance, the baby trance…. A trance triggers a reflexive way of behaving or communicating based on past experiences. It evokes a kind of inner knowing and acting. A savoir-faire (or I know what to do) in a given situation. We make decisions based on trances and these decisions are not conscious. They are automatic and sometimes irrational.

For example, I had a friend who was in a not very warm marriage. Her husband was cold and dismissive, but she just couldn’t leave him. Nobody got it. She didn’t even get it. Rationally, everything pointed towards divorcing him and moving on. But, emotionally, she was hooked. I asked her what was it about him? All she could say was that he just “had the right face.” One day, when I was over there, I was looking at her family pictures and asked if the man in the image was her husband. “No, that’s my dad.”

I asked her if he were still alive. He wasn’t. What was he like? “Oh, he was the kindest man you’d ever want to meet. Funny, so warm.” So, this guy she was married to who was the polar opposite of her father had her father’s face. So, she stayed in a marriage that wasn’t giving her the warmth she got from her father.

Eventually,  she saw the connection. It was then that she was able to begin to extricate her from her deep loving father trance that she had transferred to her husband who wasn’t like her father at all and see the difference.

This is how trances work.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Can you think of a situation in which you have an automatic response (usually positive) to something that may not be emotionally healthy for you? Would you be willing to share about it here? Can you identify the “trance” connection that keeps you hooked in the relationship or repetitive action (habit)?

No comments yet

Leave a Reply