How To Get Unhooked (and some 80’s Nostalgia)

Remember Hellraiser? It was a horror movie from 1987.

It featured this terrifying villain Pinhead and had these self-propelled chains with big fishhooks that would leap out of the dark to snag unfortunate victims and pull them apart.

If you’re like my wife and have no memory of 80s pop culture, picture little tornados bumping into you, hooking into your emotions, and capturing your attention and energy.

Life is full of these hooks or energy-sucking vortexes (yeah, I know the word is vortices but that sounds so pompous) stealing our energy, distracting us from our purpose, and leaving us drained.

How To Stay Unhooked

The way to stay UNHOOKED is to become EMPTY, by managing your emotional state so there’s less substance for these hooks to grab into.

Here are some examples of how I do it:

  1. I’m careful with how much media and news I consume.
  2. I pay attention to my emotional state when I do read the news, and take care to breathe myself back to the center when I feel too much worry, disgust, anger, or when I find myself feeling a tribalistic agreement with points of view.
  3. I tend to be ridiculously judgemental. I can’t stop the flow of thoughts and critiques of the world and people around me, but I’m getting pretty good at just gently waving them away without having to believe in them. I practice thinking loving and compassionate thoughts about people all the time, so the judgemental thoughts are like quiet background noise against a comforting foreground.
  4. I relax my attachment to my preferences. If I feel hot or cold – it’s okay. I make decisions about what to order on the dinner menu without trying to optimize. I practice accepting what is without comparison to what I wish it were.
  5. I try to be nice to myself. I actively interfere when my brain wants to criticize me, which it does quite a lot.
  6. Despite my news diet, I’m actually well informed on many subjects and I do have strong opinions. But when presented with a contrasting opinion, especially in conversation with a fellow human, I let myself be open and curious as to the validity or not of both points of view. I can hear an opinion that differs substantially from my own without actually feeling disagreement with it.

What is Unhooking All About?

It might sound like unhooking would create an emotionally dry life. But against this dry backdrop, I allow myself a deeper emotional experience for things that really matter to me.

When I get a 15-second handstand or do 4 muscle-ups in a set, I celebrate the hell out of it. When I sign a new client, I crank up Back in Black on the stereo and play air guitar like Angus Young.

I absolutely get frustrated at my slow progress in other areas of my life and I let myself feel that deeply. I see the unfairness of life here in this terribly poor country (Mozambique) that I live in and let myself feel the feels about that. I miss the beauty of my home state of Virginia and ‘enjoy’ the bitter-sweetness of that.

So it’s not about avoiding emotion, which is completely counterproductive to living an expansive and satisfying life. It’s a matter of exercising choice about the emotion I do experience, and not squandering my emotional energy (the most valuable energy I have) on stuff that isn’t really any of my business.

What’s All This Got To Do With Drinking?

Directly, not a lot. Sometimes my clients and I get into discussions like this after they’ve achieved major progress towards their drinking goals and they’re looking forward to further growth.

I only shared this perspective here to give an idea of my path as I go forward living the most engaged, effective, and human life I can live.

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