Monthly Archives: August 2014

Triggers and Opportunities

I recently had a conversation with a dear friend during which I got triggered. Badly.

You see, we all have this stuff. Stuff that comes up from our past (or past lives) that serve as hot buttons for us and exacerbate our emotions in a way that is inconsistent with the actual stimulus of what’s going on.

The easy way to say that?

Triggers are what happens when we react in a disproportionate manner to whatever just happened, because we’re caught up in our own stuff, emotionally.

So, what happened with me? I was having a fun conversation with someone I care about regarding the changes I am making in my own life for greater health and wellness, and suddenly… Boom! Triggered. I can’t say exactly what did it, but there I was, heading into my reptilian brain (fight, flight, freeze), and losing my grasp on the actual conversation, and that’s ok. It’s what we all do. It’s normal.

Here’s the cool thing though: After I recognized what was going on, rather than continuing on the path of reaction I chose to tell my friend that I was stepping away from the conversation, because it was triggering me.

The simple act of recognizing and owning what was going on gave me enough pause and perspective to choose something else.

Yes, I was still being triggered, and yes, I was still in a semi-emotional state, but I was engaging with it, rather than pushing it away. Then the most awesome thing happened: I said to my friend, “this is a learning moment for me.” And it was! I suddenly realized I could use the trigger to re-engage in a healthy manner with something I had stuffed away. Hooray!

I finally see triggers as a gift. Yup, a gift. They’re an opportunity for us to look at, accept, and let go of something that is keeping us from being our whole selves. They are obstacles on our path of life that we put in place long ago, and often continue to reinforce by fearing them and stuffing them when they show up.

Instead of giving them that level of disconnection, if we look at them as opportunities to learn and move forward they become springboards for us to jump further down our path more easily. We end up leapfrogging in our growth and understanding.

So, those obstacles that looked like boulders are now trampolines that we can use to propel ourselves further along with less effort and more flow. How cool is that?

Triggers as opportunities. I’m liking it. :)

Taking and Receiving

Did you know there’s a difference between ‘giving and receiving’ and ‘giving and taking’…?

The former draws on an infinite supply of love. It can never be exhausted. The sheer essence of gift and gratitude during the exchange multiplies the energy of both the giver and receiver exponentially, infinitely.

The latter, ‘giving and taking,’ depletes. Both giver and receiver are weakened for it. The essence of greed, imposition, and lack exhibited by the taker removes the exchange from source energy, thereby exhausting the giver.

The difference on the surface may seem like semantics. Underneath, however, the chasm is vast and not bridgeable by any span. There is a solution: the giver in the latter scenario stops giving,

This may seem harsh, but indeed it is the most compassionate action for both parties. Here’s why:

While there is a giver, the taker will always take. In other words, as long as the taker has something to take there is no incentive for change. In many circumstances takers have a rotation of givers that they exhaust in turn.

Until they are without a single giver, there is no impetus for the taker to modify their behavior. The circuit of givers enable the taker to continue in their existing behavior. Stopping the exchange is what ultimately empowers them to change, should they choose to. Hence… compassion.

Compassion looks like empowerment and feels like kindness. There is nothing kind or empowering about taking, or giving to a taker.

Conversely, giving to a receiver and receiving looks and feels like love, in all its purity: unconditional, hope-filled, joyous, and peaceful. Love.

A new game in town!

There’s a new game in town!

And by game, I mean new rules or at least a new perspective.

A few years ago, maybe 5 or so, someone I was working with suggested to me that I recalibrate my life by asking the question:

“Does this feel good or bad?”

If it felt good I was to keep doing it, or at least take note of it. And if it felt bad, I was to stop it if I could, and definitely take note of it. It was a way to begin to explore how much of what I was doing was on auto-pilot and to begin to raise my awareness to my decisions and increase my accountability to my self. It was an interesting game, because I turned it into one.

On the one hand, it raised my awareness a lot. On the other hand, I found out just how adept I was at rationalization whenever subjectivity was involved. It became a mental test as much as an exploration. The “game” became enjoyable… for a while. Then it became overwhelming and exhausting. It turns out being good at rationalization is a tricky business, and it’s not fun. The mind is, indeed, powerful.

Fast forward a few years to today, and I have a revision to the game that all but eliminates the judgmental aspects of “good and bad” and therefore removes the subjectivity and rationalization almost entirely. As I said, there’s a new game in town! Or rather, a new question:

Does this strengthen me or weaken me?

Here’s the thing, with “good and bad” it is easy to rationalize unhealthier decisions. For me, my weakness is coca-cola. (Yes, it is.) I love it. I drink one a day, and I rationalize it by telling myself that I don’t drink alcohol, smoke, do drugs, or drink coffee. My only other caffeinated beverage is tea, hot or cold, without added sugar. So, it was really easy to maintain my habit of ‘one coke a day’ – even when it became two cokes a day. Or one BIG coke a day.

It was also easy to keep it in the “good” column, because of that rationalization. Emotionally, I felt it was ok. In fact, I felt it was good for me, because of ALL the other things I had already given up and wasn’t doing. It didn’t matter if it was good or bad for me physically, and that’s where the subjectivity and judgment comes in. “Good and bad” invite discussion and argument. In fact, I’ve had healthcare professionals both agree with me and disagree with me on the ‘one coke a day’ issue, further proving its subjectivity.

Everything changes when I ask the new question, however:

Does one coke a day strengthen me or weaken me?

There can only be one answer. It weakens me. That doesn’t mean I won’t drink it ever again, but it places full accountability on me for my decision to choose something that weakens me, and its subsequent consequences. More importantly, it gives me more impetus than ever before to make a different decision. Why? Because there’s no judgment.

The new question keeps things in the realm of objectivity. And change is always more possible when it stems from objective information, rather than subjective rationalization.

So, you try it. Spend one day, just one, asking the question:

Does this _______ strengthen me or weaken me?

I think you’ll be surprised at how it raises your awareness and clarifies your perspective in life. As I said, there’s a new game in town… and this is a game that’s worth playing.