“Would you like to shoot me now or wait til you get home?”
Bugs Bunny to Elmer Fudd
In this Bugs Bunny cartoon, Bugs demonstrates the perfected art of deflection by reframing questions, hooking Daffy Duck’s anger, and then watching Daffy enable his own destruction: Elmer Fudd shoots Daffy Duck at Daffy’s insistence while a self-satisfied Bugs Bunny looks on.
Let’s pretend that Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd are not present. Only you, Bugs Bunny, remain, and you are confronted with a question about how to handle your distressing events. What would your answer be? Would you want to address the situation as it occurs? Or would you wait and push it away, hoping to dealing with whatever problem confronts you? This is not a pedestrian question, but one that the Buddha explored.
Feeling stuck occurs when you perpetually elect going home, but then never arrive. You walk around the same rotary of thinking without ever taking an exit. You retrace your steps to the beginning and then walk the same path, hoping it leads you to another destination. You try running through the solution, but you are ejected backwards by the invisible fence of your subconscious. Injured and bruise, you get up and scratch your head.
The only way we can ever truly be free of our old habits is to face our problems where we are, or go home and face them there. See your efforts of perpetual avoidance for what they are: an effort to protect yourself. From what? Only you know what it is. What are you afraid of? Write it down. As Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D., writes in her book If the Buddha Got Stuck, “If there’s no story, there’s no fear.” (If you need help charting your fear-filled waters, I highly recommend this book.)
What’s the story of your fears? How do they hold you back? How do you benefit from these bad habits? What is truly at the core of your fear? If you take the time to write down your story and to honestly examine how you got where you are, you might just be able to finally exit out of your unhappy rotary and embark on a new path.
Then, it will no longer be a question of whether to take the shot now or later; it will be about accepting what is, figuring out how to address it, and moving on.