The concept is incredibly simple: when everything goes to hell, you have to get back to some basics that you can trust, so you can get back to the place from which you look out at the world and can handle your life:
Whatever threw you for a loop this week. Today. Right now.
When do you press RESET?
To start a RESET process, the crisis must be over; or, the crisis must have gone from acute to chronic, and have, finally, a tiny bit of slack. RESET cannot be pressed in acute mid-crisis; there you have to rely on whatever coping mechanisms get you through crises.
It doesn’t have to be much of a break in the crisis mode, and your basic reset process has to be simple enough to take hold quickly so that you can take advantage of the tiny lull to get back to solid ground.
The instinct to USE that space to RESET is the key to getting control of whatever I need to control.
These past two weeks have thrown all manner of things at me:
- There have been six doctor appointments, five of them mine.
- There was a crisis in the handling of my father’s estate, a place where making the time and effort would keep the process of claiming a life insurance policy from having its file closed.
- There is the continuing saga of launching the last child, functional enough to take charge of her own life, and with a clear understanding of the necessary pieces; seemingly on track to be resolved, it has taken a hit.
- Writing wasn’t happening at all because my good time had to be used for the crises, and I hate being at that point, because writing seems to be the only thing which keeps me sane as an individual, and not the member of some societal group which has a larger claim on my time.
I got to where I was going in tinier and tinier loops involving tiny bad decisions which were actually making everything worse because I forgot the simple principle of going back to the bunker, going back to Kindergarten (as animal trainers call it), finding the space to get reoriented and reset.
Bad patterns are very hard to break
There is a pattern, a very clear pattern now that I have not been able to interrupt yet: the day AFTER I overdo it (which is extremely easy if you have CFS and brain fog and exhaustion), the first session of the day will be total crap. I can’t get around it – it ALWAYS happens. I tell myself it is coming. I tell myself I should prepare for it. I tell myself I should take First Nap SOONER than the 2:20 which is my session length – and yet I always end up taking far longer than 2:20 before I can force myself into stopping all those tiny distractions, and getting myself into bed for the mental dialysis that is the POINT of my naps.
And I ALWAYS get to that First Nap in an agitated mental state that goes around and around in circles without solving anything.
What do you do in the state where you can’t hit reset?
So, back to the RESET button: because it isn’t going to fix itself until I take charge, and I’m incapable of taking charge in that state. Catch-22.
The RESET button/process is whatever works for you to break the cycle and get back to basics.
For a computer, it is RESTART. The computer is stuck, cycling, or not working well. So STOP. Reload the software/dump the buffers/clear the caches. For each process that was active BEFORE the RESTART, figure out whether it should be started up again – this is critical.
RESET button on this human
For me, it means to STOP the mental cycling that is driving me crazy so I can look at what is important and what isn’t, and pick up threads only to the most critical problems.
And the way I have which works for me is the slow counted yoga breathing I have taught myself to do, and which is attached to the most BASIC PRINCIPLE: everything in the world can wait for THREE calm breaths.
At the end of those three breaths, there is a tiny decision: am I ready to proceed with figuring out what to do?
The answer ‘NO’ simply means I need three more breaths, and the Universe can wait that long.
Eventually, the answer is ‘YES,’ because I’ve given my brain the space to stop cycling and RESET. It never takes more than 30-40 slow counted breaths: slow in and fill the lungs completely; relax and hold while counting eight heartbeats; let the air out as slowly as possible.
The EIGHT HEARTBEATS are what works for me. When I finally start the process of breathing, the heart is racing, and the eight counts are too fast. My brain is totally fogged. But the very counting of the hold phase, my own heart’s eight beats, slows it down. I often have to remind myself of the BASIC PRINCIPLE during this period – after all, I’m in a loop, and a mess, and a crisis, and frantic, and usually there are all kinds of things hammering at my consciousness.
But I also know, from years of practice, that in addition to the heart slowing, a second feature is going on at the same time: the cleaning out of the debris of thinking from my mind. It can’t happen while I’m allowing more input of any kind.
Is RESET possible, and is it reliable?
The combination – slowing heartbeat + brain dialysis – ALWAYS works.
The more I do it, the more it works.
The first three breaths are hard. But I’m also out of any other options when I get to this point, and I know it.
I don’t WANT to nap, to block out the world. I want to fix the problems and WORK my way back to sanity.
Too bad. I don’t care what I want. I know what I have to do: I have to close down the computer and block the internet and turn off the phone ringer, and I have to take three slow counted breaths while the Universe of Hurt waits for me impatiently, often requiring one last pass through the circling garbage in my mind before I can start breathing.
And as many more sets of three breaths as it takes.
It is a process which takes time, usually that 35-minute period between lying down, putting in the earplugs if necessary, and putting the eye mask on to block the light.
Rarely, I do it in less time – because that’s all I have.
Occasionally, it takes a second 35-minute period.
But it always starts to work as soon as I start that preemptive rest period, start the first in-breath, hold the first eight counts.
What happens AFTER you click RESET?
The difference, which I just went though, is amazing. Instead of all those clamoring thoughts climbing right back into the saddle and demanding attention, I am at a calm place that can ask them: okay, which of you has to go first?
And the answer is often: none. Because what I need is to stop, put them all on paper, start the meta process of thinking about thinking, and ONLY then picking up one to think about.
I take my time.
A blank sheet of scratch paper serves for a quick listing of the screaming meemies, and the writing starts the thinking of what options are available on each problem, and the listing gets quietly into doing the more obvious logical steps, and we’re off.
Back in a sane land. Back to where things can wait their turn, and wait until there is energy to actually do them, and in some kind of clarity of priorities and timelines.
I can handle them again.
That’s my RESET button. What’s yours?