Sounds like a news headline. Instead it is a reminder I gleaned from an argument, one brought on by pain: physical, emotional, spiritual. I watched, I listened and as observer was able to see without a cloud of emotions dimming my view.
On the surface Christine made a request to her husband Ralph. This request contained more significance than either realized: so when it did not end as she planned, it became a trigger, igniting a fire of words. Accusations met with defensiveness; fiery blame lobbed in return.
There was no question Christine’s reaction originated from the request not being fulfilled. If it had been ALL about that, there could have been a quick and sincere, “oh, I am so sorry about that! I didn’t know. I’ll try again” followed by, “No problem, I’d appreciate that. Thanks.” That isn’t how this ended. At a deeper level, the unfinished task was about something else.
More than anything Christine wanted to be seen and heard by her husband. Ralph wanted to make “this” (illness) go away, and since that couldn’t happen, he wanted to give her what would be the most helpful for her and because of a miscommunication, he hadn’t. She was hurt, his good intention frustrated. Neither heard the other’s pain, only their own. The situation escalated, each one inadvertently tossing more wood on the roaring fire with every word spoke.
We have all been Christine and Ralph. My husband and I have been there – arguing vehemently about something that isn’t even really the issue. One certainly does not have to be married to be mired in this sort of situation. The reaction stemming from a call from the home office asking to adjust an already full schedule may be about feeling overwhelmed. Stress around a complex work situation demanding an answer, could be about sensing you aren’t “enough.” Listening to the latest news report, wondering how you can possibly make a difference can bring about a sense of hopelessness. Some of us react outwardly, like Christine and Ralph. Others of us react inwardly, with the same level of tension. Keeping our thoughts inside ourselves may SEEM better, however the level of blame and/or defensiveness we allow to rumble around within can be equally devastating, if not more so, than outward expression.
We have ties to the things that cause us discomfort. I remember when I started the process of identifying these triggers in me, it wasn’t fun. It was painful. But, more importantly – it was fruitful. Because once those triggers began to be identified, their power started to dissolve. Acknowledging the wounds and words of the past begins the process of healing. Eventually the triggers did not hold the power they once had, which lowered the tension I was feeling. Peace (and resiliency) began to grow.
I invite you to pay attention to your body. When you experience tension; a knotted gut, tight shoulders, the hair rising on the back of your neck, take a deep breath and move to wonder. “I wonder what that reaction is about…” “I wonder why I am so mad right now…” “I wonder why I feel pressured and stressed at this moment…” Take a moment or two to consider what is happening in life that is bumping into an old bruise – perhaps one you have forgotten about. Realizing where our trigger points are, helps diffuse them and allows us time to take a breath and consider a response instead of getting caught in a painful reaction.
Create the week you want to experience,