Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On Emotional Triggers

Random sentence that touched me in the following essay

"It was a difficult question, but not one he’d intentionally

Woah. This was very thought provoking for me. Hence the following ramblings on Facebook that I transferred to here because, well, I felt like it. I thought too I should save it in a place I would be more easily able to reflect back on later. 

What a way to think of interactions with people! What a far better way to conceptualize interactions where I am feeling triggered by something someone says (otherwise known as more than I would like to count). To think, yes, I am feeling pissed off by what this person is saying. Yes, I feel the need to respond, to defend myself. But then to take a moment to stop and think, "Did they load this gun intentionally or were they just trying to be heard?" Everyone needs to be heard, and no one preaches that more than I do. Figuring out a way for me to really hear others without first becoming triggered by something in what they say sometimes gets in the way, as I think it does for many people. In fact, I think most of the relational disconnects I have, especially the most personal ones, could be traced back to that concept. We expect sometimes... that those who are closest to us, those who we have the most intimate love for, are going to love us in a way that feels unconditional and matches our ideas of a perfect love. But to realize, maybe, that while they may have this aim too, their ability to love sometimes gets lost... in a minefield of triggers. It is just so hard to really "hear" someone when you have so many of your own triggers.

So often people cannot realize what their own triggers are, and how they affect their relationships, both intimate and less so. I am at the point where I am starting to realize what mine are, which is both helpful and immensely frustrating. I am at the point where I can say, out loud even, "I am triggered by that," but not at the point where I can control the tidal wave of emotion that comes over me and influences my behavior when they happen. It is however helpful for the post-apocalypse analysis.

But to realize the triggers in other people? That would be another level, another thing, entirely. On an abstract level I am beginning to realize what my beloved Oregon roommate had said to me once about not putting people on a pedestal. I am beginning on an abstract level to realize that other people have triggers too, and I keep wanting people not to judge me by my behavior when I am feeling triggered, I have to be willing to do the same for other people. My emotions are truly uncontrollable when I am triggered. Maybe it is the same for them. Maybe I have been judging myself based on behavior that occurred when the other person was in a state of being triggered, ie, not really them. That wouldn't be a fair judgement, a fair comparison, for either one of us. But how was I to know?

Maybe that is part of being an adult, to finally come to a state where you can actually separate the two.

Maybe in pondering this I can search for the forgiveness of others I am trying to find. Maybe they regret it. Maybe they don't. But they can't change who they they are any more than I can change who I am. When two people are stuck, one person has to move and flow past the other in order to keep the exchange alive. Two stuck people can remain stuck and unmoving for a very long time, and that would describe some of my relationships. The first step, it would seem, is finding an awareness that the other person did not intentionally load the gun. This would not seem to be something that could come overnight or just in the space of writing this essay, but perhaps small pieces of it will be parsed to me over time until I can live the experience. I can only hope.

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