In recent weeks we have been talking about how things can trigger you, and why it is important to learn how to centre yourself when triggered before you open your mouth to ‘communicate’.
I believe communication is everything. Think about it, nothing happens without communication. And here’s the thing, communication will happen whether you think it has or not. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.
Maybe you have said or heard someone else saying, “How many times do I have to tell X I don’t like Y?”. You see, if they don’t understand WHY you are telling them this, they may consider this to be a “preference” rather than a must. In other words, you believe you have communicated and yet it may not be fully understood, does that make sense?
Now consider a scenario where the person that is talking to you, triggers you (that is something they have said is linked to something in your past, that does not have a good association). Can you see how the subsequent communication could be, shall we say ….unproductive!
Unless you stop and centre yourself first. And that’s really important because most of the time the person or the event that has ‘triggered’ you, is actually nothing to do with them. They haven’t purposely set out to trigger you, and they often have no idea of the effect their words or actions have had.
And that is why it is really important to consider your communications carefully and focus on the outcome that you want.
The first thing you might want to do when something has triggered you is ask a question. Rather than assuming you know the meaning behind the words or actions, find out. Ask the questions, because the chances are the person didn’t mean what you think they meant. For example, you can say, “That’s an interesting question, why do you ask that?” (note this is asked from a genuine place of interest, not in a “who the fuck do you think you are?” …..way! #justsaying J).
The next step is to share how you feel about what happened and what you would like to happen instead. Remember to steer clear of the blame game. If you hear yourself saying things like, “You made me feel..”, “you always….” Then stop it straight away. No-one can MAKE you feel anything. You choose how you react.
Now I understand that if someone is deliberately baiting you, it can be really difficult to choose your response in that moment. The good news is, when you understand that the important thing is getting the outcome you want, then it is easier to stop yourself from just reacting.
For example, I had a client who was constantly being triggered by her husband. He would ask her stuff, which she interpreted as criticism, and she would react by getting angry and justifying herself. He would be confused by this reaction and get angry back as he felt she was accusing him of stuff which he wasn’t doing. She thought she was communicating and that the problem was her husband. This circle repeated itself for years.
Recently, this woman saw me speaking at an event and then came to me for one to one sessions to work on this issue as she was struggling to see how the relationship could continue. During the course of the RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapy) session, it became obvious that some incidents in her childhood between her and her father had instilled a belief in her that she wasn’t good enough.
When her husband would ask her whether she had, for example, put the bins out, he actually wanted to know the answer as he was going to put the bins out if she hadn’t. How she was interpreting it was, “Why haven’t you put the bins out, you are lazy/forgetful/inconsiderate/not good enough”.
As soon as she realised that she was in control of how she felt, how she chose to interpret what happened to her in the past and what happens to her now, then she was able to reframe her experiences.
She was then able to talk to her husband about how she felt (how SHE felt, not how he MADE her feel), and listen to how he felt. And then suggest that when he would ask her questions, that it would help if he would just say “Do you need me to put the bins out” rather than “Have you put the bins out yet?”.
Last I heard, things were a lot better on the home front!
The point being, by focusing on the outcome of what you want rather than on the emotion of the moment you solve the problem, it’s a win/win. ‘Kicking off’ might and I emphasis MIGHT make you feel momentarily better, but it actually doesn’t change anything. The behaviour that you want to change has only been reinforced and not changed or ended.
So, when you are thinking about communication, focus on the outcome you want. Understand that no-one is or ever will be telepathic. It’s no good thinking “well, he/she should know…..”. They don’t.
If there is something you want to change, then you need to communicate clearly and fully. If you don’t, then don’t be surprised when nothing changes. Because nothing happens without communication.