If you’re triggered by an act or by a remark from somebody, it’s a sign that this somebody just came very close to touching a deep wound of yours.
Triggers; we all have them yet most of us want to avoid them. I’m talking about those annoying habits that my husband has of leaving his socks lying around, or of my mother-in-law’s judgements about my spending and I’m so fed up with my boss telling me to make her coffee!
How can a few socks lying around, a comment on what you bought or a simple request for coffee bring your temper up to boiling point? The simple answer is: “Because you let it”, but if you want to deepen this, pause a while, let your feelings evaporate and learn from this, not how to control your temper, but what your reaction to these simple actions can tell you about yourself.
With awareness comes clarity
Once you see the how and the why, you can choose to react differently and once you react differently, these things will no longer have you huffing and puffing: you’ll be able to laugh yourself out of it.
What are you making it mean?
I started off with a very personal trigger; that of socks lying around. Here’s the background: I live in some beautiful spaces. I have created these spaces. I protect them by keeping them tidy and clean. When I see a pair of socks on the banister, this does not at all fit in with my ideal of beauty. I can enjoy a beautifully bound novel on a coffee table even if I didn’t put it there myself but a sock out of place! Please.
Before venting my indignation on my husband saying something along the lines of:
“You left your socks lying around. You know I don’t like that. Why are you upsetting me this way? You’d think you were doing it on purpose. Haven’t I told you a thousand times that I love creating beauty and that your socks are not part of it?”
You might say that at least I got it off my chest but I would disagree. Venting emotion like that, reacting instead of communicating, does nobody any good: it reinforces and condones the right to feel angry or upset as well as letting my unresolved issue spill over onto somebody else who doesn’t attach the same meaning to the act as I could.
So what am I making it mean?
If I react because I’m triggered, I might make it mean something like:
My husband’s purposefully thwarting my desire for beauty which means he doesn’t appreciate, respect and love me. It means that either I’m wrong to indulge in beauty or that he’s not validating this. Now what do I do?
If you’re saying that this is totally exaggerated, that I’m making it mean something FAR beyond what it actually does, because my husband probably just felt a desire to take off his socks… and followed it by taking action! Of course you’d be right. So that’s why we have to take our triggers deeper.
Now pause a minute and think about a behaviour or a comment that YOU find offensive, that triggers you.
Could it be around your way of spending money? Do you feel a need to justify your spending? Is a superior at work getting on your nerves with demands that you find unreasonable? Are your children not behaving and do you think they’re doing so purposefully to spite you? Pick something that gets on your nerves and dive deeper.
People will do what people will do. We do not exert absolute control over their actions or their feelings so there’s no point in trying. Much better to find out what’s really underneath all this, but careful, you might just discover that your reaction says more about you than about the perpetrator. Are you ready to find out what?
Discover what it’s really about
Instead of making an event that triggers you about another person, have a ook closer to home. If you you are convinced that somebody is doing something because they don’t respect you, turn it around and ask yourself: “Where am I not respecting myself?”
Your subconscious mind made up this story that somebody’s not respecting you which could be true, only who’s not respecting whom?
Before blowing up, make a list of all the areas where you’re not respecting your own desires. With my example of myself and my husband’s habit of leaving socks lying around (sometimes he’s even got the gall to ask me: “Have you seen my socks?” quite innocently), I could ask myself : “Am I always respecting my desire for tidiness and order?”
Here the answer is NO, I don’t. So instead of using my husband as a scapegoat, I can point the finger back at me: I can think of many things that I leave lying about that I don’t particularly enjoy coming across:
Clothes, papers, more papers, cups, glasses, tools, music, sunglasses, keys, devices…
All in all, I like the idea that things have got a home and should return to it when not in use but I myself do not always respect this. So if I’m starting to feel resentful of my husband for his socks, I can immediately look around and find examples of where I’m not respecting myself. No need to look outside myself.
When we let ourselves get upset with others for not respecting us, we can just take stock and feel into the fact that they do so because we taught them to; we have to admit that we don’t always respect ourselves either.
This becomes valuable information because whenever we feel triggered, it’s an opportunity to have a look at just this issue.
If you resent your mother-in-law’s disapproval of what you just bought, think about who else is disapproving? Could it be you? Are you trying to justify your purchase? Or are you happy just to delight in it? If you feel good about your purchase you won’t feel a need to justify it by saying : « I really needed that so that I can… »
What’s wrong with having coffee? When your boss asks you to bring her coffee, what is there to resent? Is it that you’d like somebody to bring you something? To take care of something for you? Or are you happy getting everything yourself? Would you LOVE to be able to ask for what you want? Have you tried?
We teach people how we want to be treated
If people are being disrespectful of you, it’s because you showed them that it was OK. You yourself might not be respecting your own desires, and you might not have clear boundaries up to teach people how you want to be treated.
If you want to learn how to negotiate self-loving boundaries that other people would want to respect, check out the Self-Love Activation course which is at $23,50 with the coupon code Iamwell: https://katrinehorn.com/self-love/
If you feel the need to justify what you buy (I really needed a summer dress because last year’s dress, the colour went off in the wash. It was such a bargain and I’ll need it for Susan’s wedding), other people will want you to justify too, so they’ll question the reasons for you buying anything. Just notice how want is substituted by need in my examples; so much easier to justify a need than a want. How does: “I really wanted to feel good in a new summer dress, so I went and bought one” sound compared to: “I saved a lot of money by buying this dress which I can also use at Susan’s wedding”?
If nobody’s bringing you coffee, it’s because you haven’t asked for it. You could be jealous of your boss’s ability to ask for what she wants. Instead of being offended, learn from her. Try it out; ask for what you want. Careful, you might just get it!
Maybe you are depriving yourself somewhere making it unbearable to provide somebody else with something they ask for or refusing yourself simple pleasures so resent other people delighting in them, taking them for granted.
If you want to either stop keeping what triggers you in and feeling resentful or stop blowing up over small things that even you don’t know why create such a reaction in you, here’s a process for you to try out:
1. Name what just happened. Example: my boss just asked me to work this weekend!
2. Ask yourself: “Why has this situation arisen?” An answer could be: “I took work home with me last weekend, but it was different; I chose to.”
3. Then ask yourself: “What am I making it mean?” Your answer could be: “I’m making it mean that my boss thinks I’m at her beg and call.” Then ask: “What else could it mean?” because it could very well mean that she wanted coffee and you were the nearest person to ask.
4. If you realize that her demand was not unreasonable but you don’t want to do it, simply say: “I’m afraid I won’t be able to do that” or any other neutral thing. Chances are that she’ll turn to somebody else and have them do it. No need to get emotional. You could start justifying, but that would defeat the object: you want to set a precedence as a person who doesn’t take work home.
This all sounds so simple and often in life, situations are in a grey area where a compromise is needed. Before teaching people to respect you and your decisions, you first have to respect yourself. What you’ll probably end up doing is finding some sort of compromise between the workload, your boss and your desires for the weekend. Just remember that it’s often not about all or nothing, but that several pieces can be negotiated.
If you got triggered over being asked to take home work, it’s probably yourself you’re upset with. Your boss just pointed this out to you! Your real upset could very well be that you feel you ask yourself too much over the weekend, that you’d much rather relax and have fun than doing the weekly shopping, washing and cleaning. Be honest: how much work are YOU expecting of yourself over the weekend?
Once you get clear on that, you might want to make some changes in your weekend routine so that no boss will be able to mirror back to you ever again that you are the person who’s taking care of everything.
Please make sure you have adequate boundaries in place and please ensure that you respect them ; other people will take their cue from you.
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About the author:
Katrine Horn is a speaker and life coach who guides women to create the life of their dreams, to recognize their intrinsic value and release the illusion that life is a struggle. Katrine teaches women how to manage their emotions leaving them free to embrace opportunity when it comes their way. She helps them enter their Zone of Excellence where there are able to step aside to allow their highest good to find them.
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