Got Hooked?

There’s a Tibetan Buddhist concept known as “shenpa”, which loosely translates into “how we get hooked.” Everyone goes through this syndrome. One moment, we’re doing just fine and dandy, and the next moment we’re on the edge of rage or despair or some other negative emotion. I can tell you where I’ve always tended to get hooked: when I’m in the presence of some jerk who… whoops…

See… simply thinking about it got me hooked enough to be disparaging… let me unhook myself and rephrase that…

I get hooked when I’m in the presence of someone, or even hear about
someone who’s being mean or taking up space or exercising privilege at
the expense of someone else. Drives me nuts, I get real angry. Well,
shenpa is the moment I get hooked into that negative space.
It’s very much like the moment a fish takesthe bait. Happens all the
time, all day long, in a variety of situations. And so, we’re unhappy.
What to do?

I’ve learned from Tibetan Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron,
that the moment of shenpa is an excellent time to slow down and
disengage from the hook. No matter how enticing that hook may seem, or
how harmless it seems that I’ve been hooked, if I don’t slow down and
disengage myself, my negative emotions escalate wildly out of control
at alarming speeds. So, I’m practicing. I’m trying to simply notice the
moments I get hooked, and pause before escalating. It makes for a much
calmer day!

To find out more about shenpa, check out Pema Chodron’s article on, or read the transcript of a conversation between Pema Chodron and Bill Moyers. So, have a nicer day — try to slow down when you feel yourself hooked, breathe, and take a moment to unhook yourself.


  1. Kate kicks some serious booty! I’ve loved reading ALL of your entries, but this one hits close to home. I tell ya, there’s something very powerful about self-awareness and making the committment to change things about myself that I don’t particularly like or prevent me from being the “best me” that I can. Thankfully, I have an officemate who is a great little helper in pointing out all of my daily “hooks.” As always Kate, you are a treasured and wise woman who I dearly admire. Thanks for sharing your astuteness with the rest of us!

  2. Dearest Kate… I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this very subject- the synchronicity is amazing! Thanks for sharing this post… good food for thought 🙂

  3. Kate –
    WOW!!! For me, like Alex above, synchronicity. Pema has another excellent article on her site, “Working with Addictions”, which introduced me to the concept of shenpa – thanks for posting the links so I can explore it further.
    Looking forward to keeping up with you!!! :o)

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