We all have them. I call them “go-to” places. These are the places we go to when…well, when we want to for some reason. But let’s start with the idea that this “go-to” place is a good place, a safe place, a good thing for people, a place where people find solace, and maybe even a spiritual place. But the go-to’s of our lives may not be places. So, let’s consider what might be a go-to for you, for me, and for other people.
Go-To’s based on Temperament
- Things. Many people truly value things, often more than people. We have been discussing temperaments in some recent blogs, and people who have what we call the “caretaker” temperament actually care deeply for things, property. Things can be very small like a favorite piece of jewelry or clothing, or it can be large like a room, a garage, a house, or a car. It can even be money.
- People. There are many forms of people being go-to’s. Some people have very special people who are go-to for them. Some people, we call them “lovers” by temperament, could go-to almost anyone as long as the person is living
- Ideas. People with what we call the “analyst” temperament” tend to go-to with ideas. They love to consider possibilities, solve problems, prevent problems, and figure things out. There are variations of ideas being go-to’s including some idea or problem that has interested or intrigued someone for years, while others’ go-to places may be more random, like just thinking about some possibility or conundrum.
- Experience. People who have experience as a go-to we call “players” in temperament. They want to be involved physically in something and often look for excitement. Usually, this experiential go-to is new and different, like going to a new city or meeting a new person; but it can also be something that is activity that is quite familiar, like going to a familiar park or watching a familiar movie.
Go-to’s that are Helpful
- Food. We all have our special foods. Sometimes these may be “comfort foods” that are usually high in carbohydrates, but some people have a go-to with meat, vegetables, or fruit.
- Drink. We normally think of alcohol in this category, but drink also includes soda, fruit juice, coffee, or just plain water. If you have a go-to with alcohol or something else, consider the time when water was actually your drink of choice, maybe after a long run or on a hot day.
- Reading. Some people go-to fiction, others nonfiction, and yet others historical fiction. Some people poor over their favorite researcher, theoretician, or author, while others have a favorite topic that always can be explored
- Playing. Here we have many forms including the simple ones that take minutes, like Su-do-ku and Word Play, or the more complicated ones that could take hours, like Monopoly, or video games. Still others are intensely physical, like cross country skiing, basketball, or golf.
- Working. You don’t have to be a so-called “workaholic” to have work as a go-to. Many people who are not “addicted” to working, if we even call it that, truly go-to work when they don’t know where else to go.
- Entertainment. This includes movies, concerts, sporting events, and certainly TV. This is a go-to for most Americans at least to some degree. This can be movies, soap operas, weekly drama or comedy. But it can all be just flipping channels to find something that is interesting and enticing for the moment.
- Physical contact. Lovers are much into this as a go-to, but it is much more common than just with lovers. And it is not just about sex, although sexual contact is certainly a go-to for many people. This may be physical contact with a lover, a friend, a child, an unknown person at the market, or an animal.
- Sleeping. Sleeping can really be a wonderful go-to because it can restore body and soul simultaneously.
- Running. Walking, and Hiking. I am intrigued with the people who run daily. While not exactly a go-to for me, walking and hiking is certainly something that is a go-to for Deb, and for many people.
- Singing. Do you know someone who is always humming or singing, often completely unaware that he or she is juggling a tune? An adjunct to singing might be reading or writing poetry, or maybe just playing on your guitar.
- Talking. Extraverts are inclined to talk when they have nothing of substance to say just because it is good for them to talk. Likewise, introverts often prefer their own company and find great solace in being quiet. Both good. Both different.
What have I missed? Probably plenty. Possibly a go-to that really works for you. You might even have a go-to that you don’t want anyone to know about. Nothing wrong with that. I think these go-to’s are usually related to our personalities in some way, like the temperament-based ones we started with. But they can be cultural or subcultural in their origin. Latino cultures have a “man(y)ana” in their culture, which technically means “tomorrow” but really means “eventually.” Church can be a go-to for many people that can be just as important to them as drinking or hiking is for someone else. No one can tell you that your go-to is wrong. It might just be different. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to work out every day…for an hour or more for goodness sakes. I struggle to work out twice a week. But it is good for them.
While there is never anything intrinsically wrong with a go-to, any go-to can become harmful. Harmful is when something that is intrinsically good turns out to be experientially bad, largely because it has become an avoidance of feelings, avoidance of activity, avoidance of people, or any other kind of avoidance of the necessities of having a good life. We might call such avoidances “addictions,” but I try to avoid that word in favor of a go-to being something to a fault. When a go-to becomes an activity or a substance to a fault, it has encroached on the rest of life and in so doing, has limited one’s experience in life. The distinction between something that is good for you as a go-to and something that is harmful to you as a go-to has nothing to do with the amount of the activity or thing. It has to do with the reason you are engaging in the go-to. A go-to that helps you find solace, safety, and pleasure is rewarding and enhancing. A go-to that has become an avoidance brings none of these things. Recall the blog I did on liking and wanting. A go-to that is something you like profits you, and it tends to end peacefully. A go-to that has become an avoidance reduces you and it tends not to end at all. It may not even give pleasure. It’s just a habit.
I encourage you to consider your own go-to, value it, and use it. Then consider whether you are profiting for it, or perhaps using it as some kind of avoidance of the rest of life. Remember: there is never anything intrinsically wrong with you go-to. No one has the right to say that you are addicted, or avoiding, or that your go-to is stupid. You are the only one who can make a judgment between “good for you” and “not good for you.”