American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron refers to the Tibetan word shenpa, which translated means “attachment” or “hooked”. Our habitual tendency to get caught up in our negative emotions causes us to get hooked into a negative reaction when faced with a perceived threat. For example, if someone says an unkind word to us, something in our body tightens up, and we immediately get hooked into our negative emotions by blaming the other person or putting down ourselves.
This particular incident may not upset someone else in our situation, thus it is how we internalize what happens to us that plays a role in how we react to any given situation. If we learn how to become aware of the tightness feeling in our body when it occurs, we have a greater chance of being able to diffuse this tightness before it escalates into a heated negative situation for us.
Buddhism encourages us to become familiar with our difficulties, rather than shun away from them. We are advised to fully acknowledge and experience our shenpa or hook completely without acting out or repressing. If we follow this advice, there is a greater chance that we will uncover the entire negative chain reaction of getting hooked.
This wisdom is based on compassion for oneself and others. Over time, this understanding becomes more resilient than the shenpa and we naturally interrupt the chain reaction before it even starts. In extremely emotional situations, and at any time, we can shake up our fear-based habits by simply pausing. When we do that, we allow some space to contact the natural openness of our mind and let our natural intelligence emerge. Natural intelligence knows intuitively what will soothe and what will get us more churned up.