Meltdown season. Here we are. If you haven’t had one, even just a little one, please share your secret to sanity. Because dealing with unrealistic schedules, endless gift buying and wrapping, multiple family dynamics, an overabundance of decedant food, harsh freezing weather, and usual day-to-day life, it gets to be a bit much for anyone to navigate gracefully. If you feel like all of your buttons are being pushed, or rather jammed, they probably are. Especially by the people that show up in our lives and are just so good at finding the buttons we thought we were done with. Or put a neat little cover over. Those are the ones that get pushed especially hard if we weren’t really done. What a gift.
This person is triggering you for a reason, and however they’re triggering you is giving you information about yourself. Not about their crazy, messed-up issues (which can be very real, too) but about your own.
Here’s the deal: We only get triggered if there’s something there to be triggered. Granted, people can be insensitive jerks, and they may not deliver the “gift” in the way we’d like, or at all, but that’s how it happens sometimes. If you can see it that way (which if you are, I applaud you, as it takes real maturity and a willingness to go to a very vulnerable and uncomfortable place inside yourself) you will probably be able to work through the issue and let it go, or at least recognize it so that you can deal with it differently. Or, if you’d rather not go there yet, you can just focus on the fact that they’re being an insensitive jerk and leave it at that. Because there probably is truth to it, too.
If you are ready to feel it, explore it, and work through it, here’s what I recommend (and sometimes even do myself):
Stop and take a breath. Or 14. Whatever is needed to feel at least a little better. If you’re in a conversation you aren’t liking, excuse yourself if needed to spend a few minutes just breathing in another room. Make sure you really release with deep exhales.
Ask: What is it that’s really bothering me? i.e.: “She always acts like she’s in charge and I’m just expected to bend to her plans.” Is it that I’m always expected to mold to her desires while she gives no regard to my considerations; is it that she acts like she’s in charge, and I feel like I should be? Or is it that I feel myself shrinking and go along with it to make peace?
Is there something beneath that? AKA: What else? (Keep repeating to go as deep as you want to go.)
i.e.: She doesn’t give me the same consideration I would give her. Going deeper: I don’t feel valued or respected. I don’t feel like I really matter to her.
i.e.: I feel like I would like to be in charge sometimes. Going deeper: We are in a power struggle. It doesn’t feel good. I’m giving in, which means I’m giving my power away.
Keep going through the “Is there something beneath that” question until you feel like you’ve really gotten to your answer on what the deeper trigger is. We all have our wounds, and you may find it ties into more than one. If it just feels too much in the moment, wait until you’re in a space where you can write about it. Sometimes free-flowing writing is so cathartic.
With the new answer, how can you react differently next time? Can you have a conversation with the “offender” from a place of deeper understanding? Can you choose to go along with the situation, respectfully letting the other person know how you feel? Or is it time to let that person go, wishing them the best on their path as you continue on your own.
I find that when I’m triggered by a situation, it is usually a call for me to take back my own power and not shrink. It means looking at the situation from an empowered place after I’ve felt my emotions, and choosing to move forward with more of myself. Which is not easy at times, in fact it can be scary as hell. Leaving yourself more open and vulnerable is part of showing up fully. And the other person may not understand, but what matters is that you do, and you deal with it the best way that you can.
And that is your gift. You are being asked to show up more fully and powerfully. How many people really do that in your life? Damn. I know, it’s much easier just to blame them.
If you want to play with this even more (I know, it’s so much fun!), I can’t recommend Byron Katie’s Four Questions enough.