BLOG: YEAH, I GOT TRIGGERED AGAIN!
Yes, you heard right, I said gift. When we get triggered this is a true gift, yet it does not feel that way in the moment. It is a gift because we learn more about ourselves and especially about areas still needing attention.
Because this is such a common experience for those of us in intimate partnerships, it is worth looking at and having some tools we can use. Here are three things we have found helpful in our own marriage and in working with couples and individuals.
Stay calm and well grounded in your own body and emotions. Sometimes that means delaying the conversations until you can be non-reactive. We have all had conversations with loved ones that escalate because we did not pause.
Picture yourself stating calmly to your partner, “I don’t want to be reactive so I am going to take some moments for myself to get clear of how I do want to respond”.
It helps to practice this before hand by visualizing it happening. It’s just like a fire drill where you practice so you know what to do in the event of the real thing.
Understanding the reason for our reactivity is a key issue here. When emotions get triggered it is an indication that our comfort zone has been disturbed. That means that the survival brain processed through the amygdala is now running the brain. The priorities have now shifted from what is good for us to what is good for me. Under these circumstances it is important to make note that there is something within us that needs attention. This is the counterintuitive move from paying all of our attention to the other. As we grow to understand ourselves better, we will be less likely to be knocked off balance by our hijacking emotions and be more calm and solid.
If you do react, slow down, take a few deep breaths and notice what is happening and how you are feeling in your body before you continue talking. It is essential that we pay attention when we react. These reactions are indicators of those underlying beliefs about our world and us. When we catch ourselves, this is powerful and can change the communication on a dime.
Forgive yourself and practice self-compassion as you would for a small child who is learning and makes mistakes. We can be our own worst critics and have high standards for ourselves that we would not expect others to live up to. Here are some great quotes on forgiveness and compassion.
If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. ~Jack Kornfield
“It’s toughest to forgive ourselves… It’s almost like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, forgiving others, you really do get to the point where you can forgive yourself.” ~Patty Duke
Now when you have the opportunity to practice this you can be grateful to your partner for helping you. If this sounds a bit far-fetched, I understand. It was for me at first as well. Why the heck would I want to be triggered and then be grateful for it? It was a process for me. Sometimes I still catch myself getting defensive and reacting and I do not feel grateful. Other times I catch myself and breath, and then somehow it seems perfect. It is a practice we must do over and over to break old patterns. However, as we grow in our awareness and understanding of ourselves we may just look forward to practicing more of this.
P.S. If you would like more support in applying these principles, give us a call. In between our speaking and coaching engagements, we carve out a few individualized sessions each month. Schedule your appointment here.
To Your Growing Awareness,