TRAP: the patterns we fall into during the game of life

T.R.A.P (originally from the story of the rat experiment) stands for: Trigger, Reaction, Assumption, Program

This concept helps me (and you, if you want) to escape the trappings of drama in life. When I realise I’ve fallen into an unbalanced, or unhealthy pattern (or addiction) it can be painful, so I like to remember this is all part of the growth process. Our personas, values and actions are informed by our patterns and if we consciously choose which patterns we adhere to then we can create the life we want, rather than the one we are pressured into. We must have patterns to play effectively within life, all that’s missing is a sense of play and adventure This tool helps you see the various choice points and respond with playfulness and presence (awareness and adventure) to the following TRAP:

This is linked to the ABC work of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), by Albert Ellis. A = Act/actor, B= Belief and C= Consequence (emotional. reaction). The internal belief is the cause of the reaction, more than the initial act.

Simple Reprogramming: Change the association (belief) by upping your  the A-game:

Mindfulness is a gradual, organic opening to the truth of what your body and mind want in harmony, by connecting with reduced judgement and a more flexible attachment style. It can be very freeing and if you like you can even enjoy the process. Think of them as sand traps in a game of golf, instead of prisons of behaviour patterns. You will simply let the grains of sand flow and soon enough you’ll be free (and anyway, it’s only sport). This is very simple: It is a matter of:

  1. AWARENESS &  ATTENTION:  Mindfully (without judgement) noticing the trigger and reaction. Give it space.
  2. ACKNOWLEDGE & ALLOW: Don’t fight it or think to hard, just observe how it feels, with some time. Say how it feels, write it down. See if you can acknowledge what it means to you. What is the underlying assumption or association - YOUR sensitivity or fear? Maybe it’s a fear of not being enough in some way?
  3. ACCEPT & APPRECIATE:  this is a process, by which you fully acknowledge that you do it and you created this pattern, therefore you are responsible for changing. You are the ONLY one who can change it, by first thanking it; see the benefits it brought you, how it protects your from a fear and accept this is an old pattern, a program that used to serve you.This will help you to let go of resistance and let it transform in it’s own time, without force. Repeat this often.
  4. ACTION & ADVENTURE:: With this new awareness can you now make a different choice, with a sense of curiosity, interest and adventure (instead of worry/avoidance). Plan and act in recognition that the trigger was not responsible, but the painful assumption/association caused the reaction and now you can reclaim conscious action, without resentment or resistance. Repeated awareness-action makes new paths and eventually re-programs the mind towards playfulness and presence. It’s simple and not easy!

The follow up TRIP is a document showing a way to turn the TRAP into a TRIP!

TRAP: Further information:

Trigger: This could be anything - a situation, word or stimulus reminds us of a pain and we feel unsafe. We have taken the stimulus personally, because it touched a wounded part of us. Examples include;

Just note what is the common denominator in your reaction. Watch the trigger, study it for a moment, as you breathe.

Reaction: The reaction is in us, from our programmed conditioning. Perhaps it is anger, apathy, fear etc. We may react with actions, words or thoughts that work against ourselves or others, in a bid to protect. Examples of reactions could include:

Just note where it is felt and then breathe with it for a moment, without judgement or resistance. See your involuntary reaction without adding to or suppressing it. Then maybe there is a  behaviour:

Allow this to happen and notice it before, during and after the behaviour.

Assumption (and Association): Behind the reaction is a self-limiting belief deep in your subconscious - an association or assumption that is probably linked to a past experience or imagining that was never fully processed and creating an unconscious imagining of what will happen. You’ve probably been carrying this for a long time, so it’s ingrained - usually an interpretation / worldview formed from when you were younger (and you can explore that through regressive phychoterputic means if you feel inclined - I am not a phycotherapist!). It can be hard to find out what we are assuming, especially when we forget that thoughts are just flexible (and often inaccurate) opinions, not rigid truths/facts. Examples could be:

Again, see if you can uncover 1 or 2 associations/assumptions until you get to the bedrock assumption - for example; a belief  that you need routine might lead you to realise  you don’t trust that you are enough without working harder than a colleague. (I’m not enough). This is a common bedrock assumption that will probably come back time and time again. Just because you process something once, doesn’t mean that your mind won’t forget. It takes time, persistence, repetition and positive attitudes to change patterns of  thought and behaviour. The association could be that:

These are examples/. Notice what needs the behaviour is meeting (or what you THINK it is meeting).

Program (following a pathway): Watch how you repeat this pattern, going down the well trodden paths, running from your pain, you may run an automatic program of blaming others, a thought process of externalising the problem eg. “other people should be quiet”. You might be projecting the source of the reaction out (anger) or inwards (guilt and shame) and demanding a change in order to help you feel safe/respected/happy/worthy. Watch how the association isn’t true and he very thing we are trying to get from our behaviour is the opposite of what we create. Eg. smoking = short term relief but long term tension and dis-ease.

Realising the truth will help us to not need willpower to change. It will be obvious.  The real change needs to happen in our thinking and reprogramming of our minds. To make new pathways, through our pain (which initially takes energy and courage)  You can then see how this repeats and when you’re ready, choose to re-program