Old Tracks

Photo courtesy of Robin Lake

We make progress.

We learn to respond, not react.

We practice better habits.

We are not the same as before.

We forge new mental pathways.

We forget the old emotional reactions.

We forget the old pain.

We forget the old tracks.

We haven’t used the old tracks in years.

But the old tracks remain – overgrown, almost hidden from view.

We walk through new pain or trauma.

We experience fear and anger.

We overreact.

We lose ground.

We are hurt.

We find ourselves speeding down the old tracks.

Recently, I was speeding down the old tracks.

I thought I had moved beyond these old tracks, these old ways of thinking and reacting.

All those years of progress and hard work seems to disappear instantly.

The progress didn’t disappear. My brain and my emotions simply found those old tracks and they were so familiar and so self-preserving. The old tracks in my mind – a protective response to recent pain.

I didn’t even realize I was on the old tracks until I was talking it through with two of my best friends on my couch. Those old tracks became the default mental pathway again and everything was being filtered through that lens. Even though the pain was gone, the echos or memories of that pain still took the old tracks to view, react, feel, and interpret events.

How are your old tracks?

How have recent events, pain, or trauma caused a return to these old tracks, patterns, or reactions?

Recognizing these old tracks is a good first step.