Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Self-Compassion 5: Understanding Our Triggers

Now that we’ve got a general idea about the how our brain processes difficult circumstances, we can go into each part more deeply. We’ll also keep in mind the aspects identified by Neff:
• Mindfulness (instead of over-identification): what should we be especially aware of?
• Common humanity (instead of isolation): how is this part of the human condition?
• Self-kindness (instead of self-judgment): what compassionate response could be made?
For these activities, think about a simple conflict you have been involved in.

1. Trigger Events:

Triggers are simply incidents that set our automatic or habitual reactions in motion. A common phrase to describe these reactions is “flooding.” Emotions, thoughts, and urges ‘flood’ our minds and body. In the moment, we do not choose to react this way, although our choices over time reinforce or transform these reactions.

Below are some key questions to help us understand what triggers us during a conflict:

• Is there a certain behavior that you are consistently upset about?

• Are there any particular words or non-verbal communications that others use that you are consistently upset about?

• When you are trying to communicate to others, are there any responses that you are consistently upset about?

• Of the behaviors you listed above, which ones are hardest for you to handle well?

If you are at a stage of cultivating empathy-for-others, you may also ask:

• Have you noticed any ways that your own Outer Voice triggers others?