In times of fear, have you ever found yourself losing interest in your goals and chasing new ones? Some people think they have ADD or shiny ball syndrome, always chasing the next new thing, never sticking with one course of action but, instead, chasing every new dream that comes along? Do you not stick up for yourself, but divert your anger into something trivial or more socially acceptable instead? These are but a few of the ways you can avoid the hard stuff, the stuff you may believe, you just can’t handle.
Have you ever found that you cannot settle into one vision, one goal or one thing? Instead you keep losing interest, repeating patterns and running all over the place in a seemingly chaotic fashion?
Perhaps author, speaker and research professor Brené Brown (Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection etc.) can shed some light on your behavior. Brown introduces us to the idea of “serpentining” as a protection strategy we use to avoid vulnerability. Borrowing from the 70’s movie, “The Inlaws”, Brown describes a scene in which one of the characters tries to dodge flying bullets by moving in a serpentine fashion – zigging and zagging rather than moving in a straight line in order to avoid being an easy target.
As a protective strategy “serpentining” can be exhausting because, in the end, more energy is expended “serpentining” than facing the fear head on. It may be helpful to examine your own places of resistance and invulnerability and notice where you find yourself doing the serpentine shuffle. If you are truly dodging bullets, “serpentining” may have its place, but when facing up to challenges in our life, it is a protective strategy that requires closer examination
For a visual example and a bit of levity, you can view the ‘serpentining” clip from The InLaws here: