Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Old Triggers

Yep, it's another round of people who annoy me. :)

Okay, this time it's a relative who gets irate and worked up to near-hysteria about nearly anything once she's in the mood to. This is irritating because she is not even getting upset about a real thing, but being triggered by something that maybe only slightly resembles or reminds her of something that upsets her. Asking about the connection does not bring anything to closure... I get irritated by the conversation being dragged off in various directions based on these derailing tangents with no obvious connection.

So I have to open my big mouth and query this, this using any convenient trigger to go off on an anxious rant in a completely different direction, and how no one can get a word in edgewise meanwhile. But even this is an affront to the precious feeeeelinggggs. She is very, um, grouchy, to have to wonder why she is doing this so frequently. She feels severely attacked by my even questioning this. Oh, so then I am being the insensitive one... Oh well, maybe I am. I breathe slowly and will myself to delicately back off... (which is in itself an accomplishment)

So I think to myself that probably I have those kind of triggers too, that set me off on an emotional whirlwind although it is not the thing itself that is upsetting me, but the emotional reaction to being reminded of it... For me, it is something like a time when someone done me a deep personal wrong, or when I lost a friend through some tragedy. Or general worthless malaise. Yup, I can get dragged into it all over again.

So I relive my stuff, and this person also relives her stuff -- and it's driving me crazy because she's ratchetting up the fear at top volume, blotting out anything else "real" around her. I want to ask her, "Why do you do this to yourself??" And "Why do you rush headlong into a state that you clearly do not enjoy much?" Or I don't know--maybe she does get something out of it, maybe the rush of adrenaline.

It reminds me of someone I used to know who dealt with any and all difficult emotions by throwing herself into feeling each one to the point of deliberate exaggeration in an effort to "cleanse" herself of these "bad" emotions. As if she could purge herself of the emotions. She said that, too, she had to purge to get rid of it. Did this prevent her from further difficulties? No indeed. In fact, she only reinforced those emotions, wearing the emotional groove deeper and deeper every time she put herself into that state and milked it for all it was worth. Anger, pain, sorrow, spite... Afterwards, she was all worn out... and nevermind the effect of all this stuff on other people... I suspected she was addicted to the rush of anger and fury, at the very least, for the amount of satisfaction she seemed to get out of it.

Okay, so I am aware that emotions also have a physical affect on us, mostly chemical and cardiovascular, I think. We are reminded of something and our hearts beat faster, we start getting steamed or fearful or whatever our pattern... it's so easy to recall those strong feelings because we store them in physical memory. Maybe a similar physical state can trigger a memory too. My DH has told me stories about when he was doing yoga regularly that sometimes the poses would bring up strong emotions in him. Some deeply-buried emotion would come up and sweep over him. So apparently, that's not uncommon to have physical states trigger emotional ones. I'd be interested to learn more about any research done about this.

I have nothing against honoring our experiences and for that matter, our traumas. But we store so much stuff in our bodies as it is... why add to our burden? Why relive painful times so obsessively? I have to ask myself if there is a better way to soften that physical/emotional groove, that habit, and to lay down some new tracks. It would mean catching the event at or before the trigger point before the needle slips into the groove irretrievably, and learning ways of redirecting the reaction. Maybe even reconstructing the response itself.

* * * *
Okay, so here's my challenge:

Notice when I am reacting strongly to something.
Notice how it manifests, emotionally, physically, behaviorally, other.
Notice any images or old scenes it may bring up.
Listen for any internal voices playing old tapes.
Try to soothe, acknowledge, redirect...
Try to do something different physically to help unkink the old pattern?
Reflect on the apparent trigger point(s) for future reference.
Take notes and brainstorm a better plan for next time.
* * * *
Oh, this should be interesting. I'm still a little annoyed however. Maybe my sisters know all my trigger points? Maybe my family is one big trigger point waiting to happen! Oh, this should be *really* interesting!!

* * * *

Labels: , ,


At 7:48 PM , Blogger Schmutzie said...

You've been tagged!

At 4:40 PM , Blogger Kathy said...

Hey I just found your blog while browsing finslippy...it sounds like you met my aunt, as you've just described her to a T!


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