It’s taken me months to pluck up the courage to write and share this one, I’ve needed to mull it over for quite sometime. Recently, something triggered a reaction in me, an emotional one that I internalised. Actually it wasn’t something, it was someone. It doesn’t matter who, they won’t even realise it’s them and that doesn’t matter, they’re not a part of my life anymore but the lesson I’ve learnt is.
I do a lot of work now with people, in particular women who’ve suffered trauma and there’s lots of conversations about triggers and managing them. Now I’ve often felt I cannot relate to this because I’m not sure I’ve felt it and reacted, until now. When this person treated me how they did, I felt the same level of lack of confidence, doubt, upset and anger, I started to question myself, thinking/asking, “why are they doing this to me?” “What have I done to deserve this?” And it’s then that I realised, they’d triggered an emotional response I used to have. Ok I didn’t say or do anything really to this person, I just internalised my feeling and luckily, more rationally processed them than I once would. That’s where the key difference and learning comes.
The thing is, you cannot control how others behave, but you can control your reaction. You cannot even really control the emotions their behaviour bring out in you, but you can control how your emotions inform your behaviour. The person that triggered my upset and hurt doesn’t know it, I didn’t react in the way I once would’ve done, I didn’t allow them to take such ownership over me and my behaviour and now they’re no longer apart of my life. I’m not saying that’s the answer either, I’m not saying they are the same as my previous abuser, but their behaviour did hurt me and it did cause feelings of upset and frustration that were similar to of that which I suffered in my marriage. In this particular situation the answer was to walk away from them and no longer engage in interactions with them, but that’s not always the way, this occasion it was.
Most importantly what I’ve learnt from this more recent experience is to stop asking myself those questions I mentioned earlier, “why are they doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this?” Because really I should be asking myself, “why am I allowing them?” and that’s the key difference in how you respond to triggers, why are you allowing someone else to have a negative effect on your emotions and behaviour, why are you allowing them to make you question your worth.
Like I said in a previous post know your own worth because anyone trying illicit a negative response in you, make you feel bad about yourself or manipulate you to their own advantage certainly does. They know your worth, so don’t you forget it.
You cannot control others behaviour but you can control your response to it.