Day 19

Make sure to read days 17 and 18 before reading today.

The trigger in our example is the mother’s voicing of something related to the son’s cleanliness. Because of the nature of their relationship, the son explodes on his mother in reaction to his trigger. The reaction in this circumstance is loud, external, aggressive. It’s also something that, to the son, feels justified.

But triggers also translate to other relationships and this is where they begin to get tricky. Let’s say the son has a girlfriend, wife, spouse, roommate, partner, etc. Let’s say the the son and his partner have a history of a wonderfully healthy and mutually respectful relationship. Let’s say the partner one day says, “Hey, since we’ve got company coming in this weekend would you mind picking up the dirty clothes next to your side of the bed and I’ll do the same?” How does the son respond?

It depends on many factors, including how attentive he is to himself and how much work he has done. If he’s aware that, given his history, requests for cleanliness are always going to sound like harsh critiques then he may be aware that he has to suppress the experience of a trigger in order to choose an appropriate response to his partner. He may find that his internal reaction is angry, he may feel like his stomach is in a knot, he may feel uncomfortable.

If he’s done some good work with a support system to process and deal with his issues, and attentive has learned to be attentive to himself, he may have the capacity to resist an accidental release of tension. Instead, he may say, “Sure, I’ll get this stuff cleaned up.”

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