Trigger Happy

Parking meter.png

She typed in her little machine and said what they always say: "I already put it in and can't remove it." Yeah, sure. One of the most disliked people in every town, the parking sergeant looks at me expecting me to burst into swear words. I prefer to look back at her in my most piercing disgusted way. I grab my computer bag, my hand bag, my keys. I finish my espresso. I leave. My mood to write was crushed. In the car driving home I got more and more furious.

My trigger: I am unfairly treated. I can't make the tiniest mistake without being punished for it? Forgive me already.

Forgive me for what?

Years ago an astrologer had told me that I must have killed a lot of people in a past life. That was a heavy hammer to swing for somebody you pay expecting help. To be afraid of your inner badness isn't exactly that. I could have gotten a second opinion but then I don't really believe in reincarnation. So I put it aside. But every image leaves an imprint on your brain and some we can't delete that easily.

I felt guilty and that wasn't new, just a reinforcement.

The first time I became aware of it was when my best friend was annoyed with me: "Don't always defend yourself, I know it wasn't your fault. Why do you think everybody wants to get you?"

Blaming and shaming from my parents of course... easy culprit to discover. But making things aware is like the writing on the wall, it is suddenly out there and real.

To give my guilt trip some mythical depth life presented me with visions: Like a movie projected over reality I saw and experienced an amazing medieval story about heretic monks and the forbidden love of a courtesan and a monk. Not only that, the people in my life took on roles acting out energies of people who lived in my ancient house in Portugal 700 years before us. I only fully understood their roles years later after the whole drama had played out. It inspired me to write the trilogy Quanundrum. Everything is at the same time. First book is Mea Culpa, it is all my fault.

Not every trigger inspires us to 800 pages but they can be amazing flashlights into our psyche and inner stories. Especially if they hit you repeatedly and in different situations it's time to watch out as little monsters can became big, fat demons.

Like when Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty drives behind a little truck overloaded with stop signs and of course passes him by furiously instead - and crashes into his death. Only to become God for a while. Pretty cool for a sign... Not that a had a wonderful time as God. He experienced how screwed up he really was instead.

Trick from the psych box: You feel an attack or anything that awakens a negative feeling, fear, anger, sadness, fight, flight... don't react. Breathe, step aside. If you have a brain freeze, the "I will have to respond to this later" always works.

Then you can look at your feelings, step into the other person's shoes and decide how or maybe not to respond.

If the same feeling is triggered more often, let it guide you to when it happened first. Knowing it's origin is important as it's often childhood traumas that haunt us forever. Who knows, you might have a time travel experience like me into some hidden stories in your DNA.

Life is story

Find yours. Discover your beliefs and check if they are really yours. To retrain your brain and see the trigger situations differently will be a fierce act of will. To train your brain to change its judgements and the cause/effect plot is like going to the gym. That's where mantras come in. Repetition is king by convincing your brain of a new truth.

I have to look at a scary email now, one that wants to blame me. I saw the first line... I really drag to even look at it but I will breathe and watch my feelings - and let them go. And then I might or not respond.

Our "stuff" never goes away but the way we handle it makes the difference. We are responsible for our lives; we don't have to give other people the power to ruin our day.