I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I react in certain situations. How someone’s actions can cause an irrational, emotional response from me and they not even realize it. And why would they? They’re probably in the middle of their own trigger-happy environment dealing with something I said or did.
I think most of the communication that takes place today has more to do with trigger responses than what is actually happening in the moment. What’s troubling is that most people aren’t even aware it’s happening or that they even have triggers. They stumble through life lashing out at current friends and family for things people did and said to them years ago and then wonder why their relationships crumble.
We are a society of well-meaning people who don’t really want to hurt each other but can’t seem to stop. It’s a vicious loop of triggers, responses, and passing off responsibility for our own feelings.
Taking responsibility for my behavior is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, especially during a trigger response. It was so much easier – and satisfying – to throw a tantrum or lash out at the person who triggered the pain but wasn’t responsible for it.
It took me a long time to understand that a trigger response has very little to do with the other person. It’s taken me even longer to be able to recognize a trigger response for what it is and take a moment before I react. Even when I am able to do that, though, it’s still hard to not get sucked into the cycle. Especially when it’s a new trigger or one I haven’t had to deal with in a while.
This is another thing that falls into the ‘not easily solved’ category. But that’s okay, because sometimes awareness is more important. Sometimes just stopping to think about an issue is all it takes to make real, meaningful progress.
So the next time someone says or does something that makes you want to respond is some irrational way I challenge you – and me – ask yourself why. Take a minute to root around in your mind. It will be uncomfortable and you will more than likely find things you wished you hadn’t. But you might also find some answers. You might find the real reasons for things that you do or say or believe. You might find happiness in spite of what others have done to hurt you, intentional or otherwise.