Never mind the trigger

Do you know what still triggers me, after all these years? Just one example of many: people telling me about parties or events they were invited to – together! – and I wasn’t.

What does that TRIGGER in me? Anxiety. As if I am about to be tossed off the earth’s surface (apparently, I still believe the earth is flat…). So, how do I react? I either fall silent, or try to ignore what I feel, or I get angry, indignant, and go into an internal rant. All are painful and take me out of the connection with the people I am with.

Is it about the parties? Of course it isn’t. It’s about a very OLD pain of being left behind (as a baby, I spent 10 weeks in hospitalized quarantaine with a tuberculosis infection).

So where is the solution? Not in trying to get into all the parties and events that people go to, nor in trying to avoid being triggered again (because I know I will be). It is in looking at the AMMUNITION I am still carrying (that huge pain and fear of being deserted). By compassionately acknowledging that, I can gradually regain my responsibility – my ability to respond from awareness rather than react.

As Gabor Maté puts it so beautifully, “If you got triggered, it’s because you were a gun ready to fire, it’s because there’s explosive material in you that you’ve been carrying all your life. The rich learning is in getting curious about what is that ammunition in me. Never mind focusing on the trigger so much.”

So, next time you tell me about a fun thing you attended, you may see me breathe deep. And you’ll know that I’ll be saying to myself, “This just triggered that very old pain in me. Let me breathe into that and stay present with it as well as with their story.”