Recently, there has been some discussion going on between myself, Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way and Don at Candid Impressions. Its about what goes on when we are triggered and get annoyed. I thought I would share my perspective and 4 questions that can throw some light on might be going on.
When we experience discomfort, our basic human response is to look outside to see who is “doing it to us”. It is a part of being human. We react and make a judgment about the other person. We may blame them, ridicule them, put them down or attack them. We have labeled them “wrong” in our own minds. They are the “enemy”.
I believe that this is our ego’s instinctual way to defend itself and to maintain its vision of itself. The ego thrives in making itself look good to itself… and others.
Our ego’s role is to survive. Deflection and attack preserve the way things are. Preservation drives the ego. It’s always more comfortable being “right” than vulnerable!
When we react or feel triggered it isn’t really about the other person.
The actions or words of the other person have triggered something already inside of us.
If we want to grow and evolve, then we must take responsibility for our own feelings and become curious about what is going on within us.
It is our reaction. These are our feelings to explore.
I believe that if we ask ourselves the following questions, then we can get closer to our inner truth.
Taking a moment to pause and center yourself. Finding your middle ground and being present with what is alive in you, is the door to inner transformation.
Here is an example we can use to explore the 4 questions: You are in a group of people and you get triggered when someone hijacks the conversation and makes hurtful “humorous” remarks that puts an other person down.
1. How am I that?
This is the hardest and boldest question … as it makes us look honestly at ourselves. Is there a part of yourself that does this? Is this a blind spot you are unwilling to face?
Your ego may be shouting NEVER! I have never been critical or put others down! I have never grabbed attention! I would never use humor to bully someone else! I could never be like this! I am not that kind of person!
Is this really so…. With the wisdom of your years and perspectives on life … is this so…
Rather than denying this aspect of ourselves, be prepared to meet it. In doing so it’s hold on us will diminish. There may be real transformation, acceptance and freedom here.
2. How have I been hurt by that?
Have you been at the receiving end of this type of behavior. Perhaps you weren’t able to stand up for yourself back then. But you still feel the pain and injustice. If this painful experience is still alive in you, then give yourself empathy and compassion. Imagine you are like a loving grandmother comforting the young and vulnerable part of you. There may be some healing to be done.
3. What is the unmet need behind these judgments and feelings? What is missing for me?
When you react to this person, you wouldn’t want to be a person like that … but underneath it may reveal an unmet need that you have. Perhaps a part of you that isn’t being fully expressed. What could be missing for you? For example, an inability to speak up or assert yourself. Or a need for authentic expression. Or a need to be recognized by others?… There may be a valuable need of yours that yearns for attention.
4. How does this violate a core belief of mine?
You are witnessing something you wouldn’t tolerate within yourself. It goes against your own values and beliefs.
A word of caution here …. Note that option 4 is what your ego will always prefer. It stokes it and makes it feel good. It wants to be the champion and hero. Watch out for this one as a deflection strategy to protect itself from being vulnerable.
On the other hand, if it is a belief that comes from your inner heart and soul. Coming from love rather than fear. A core value that you live by every day. Then you are indeed seeing an injustice. Recognize it and choose what to do.
How can you channel this anger in a positive way? Transform it into powerful compassion. Use this emotion to make a difference and bring about what you deeply believe in.
So be mindful with all 4 questions … and listen to your inner wisdom and heart.
Be compassionate rather than righteous.
Be open rather than closed.