What’s Your Trigger Say About Your Beliefs?

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While driving home today I noticed two different people. A jogger waiting at the stoplight, ponytail swinging, matching shoes and outfit, then further along the way was a teen in dropped khaki pants, well, not fully dropped. No boxers were showing at least. Both of these styles can trigger either interest or anger. I’ve seen people go on full tirades about both styles. We all have our triggers and what really fascinates me is how obvious they seem to me. I wonder if everyone notices them. A coworker mentioned her young son’s crazy habit of making up words. It bothers her. It frustrates her. Why? They aren’t real words. So she corrects him. That bothers me because I know that he’s developing language skills. But I didn’t say anything because I’m practicing on being quiet and minding my own business. Here are some examples of things that set people off:

  • baggy pants
  • trash on the floor
  • interrupting a conversation
  • cutting in traffic
  • an unmade bed
  • white shoes after labor day
  • pantyhose and open toed shoes
  • watching TV all day
  • shyness 

Our inner rules guide us from birth to death on how we should dress and how we should act. If it’s something we’ve worked hard to master or it has value attached, it can trigger strong emotions. Most interesting is what our triggers say about our values. Take a look at behaviors that most consider good behaviors for example:

  • combing your hair
  • tucking in your shirt
  • washing your car
  • eating all of your food
  • reading a book
  • travelling the world
  • speaking a foreign language
  • outgoing

To the uniformed, those that do the first are bad people. Or in the least, they are considered sloppy, lazy, and worthless. The last group would be considered neat, tidy, and productive. Which ones trigger anger or pleasure in you? What value or belief is it reminding you of? I’m trying to be slower to judge and less quick to correct. For all I know the kid with the dragging pants is an excellent student with a scholarship to MIT and is just trying to fit in with the crowd.

Maybe it’s none of my business.

 

 

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Failure is Relative

Am I a failure at relationships because I can’t give someone what they want? Or, maybe they need to find what they are needing somewhere else.

Does it make me incapable of being intimate if my need for aloneness is huge? Taking time for myself is essential to who I am. Am I the other’s property? A doll to dress up and approve? Do I need to ask permission to wear blue or take a nap? Who do I listen to, myself or to other people? Is their need (even if they are a lover) more important than my own?

I need space, but that doesn’t make me cold. I love reading, but movies are wonderful also. I love blue and red and green and purple and black. Taste the rainbow. I cannot live in one man’s pastel world. I cannot be there for his every need.

I deal with these feelings of anger and sadness because I’ve felt like a failure at times. Old issues seem to resurface. I’ve heard the accusations, You weren’t there for me. You’re cold and emotionless. But I’m not.

If I take my love back why are you complaining? It was mine to give in the first place. You don’t own me.

 

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The Process of Doing

Choices

  • First, there’s the discomfort. It’s either boredom or dissatisfaction of where I’m at or how something is working. Inconvenience can trigger the discomfort also, like constantly walking around the same chair in my path.
  • Second, there’s dreaming, of wants, desires or possibilities. Do I like the chair? Should I put in another room? Rearrange the Living room?
  • Third, I bring it down to reality by choosing the most practical ideas. Sketch out my Living room furniture placement. Arrange it on paper.
  • Fourth, I write a plan. Maybe the easiest thing for today is move the chair into the bedroom.
  • Fifth, I take the first steps. Move the chair. I can decide over the next few days if it’s working.

Tailspin

What turns me into a confused ball in the corner of the room is a different solution popping up in front of me. One or two more ways of solving my problem and it starts my process over again. At that point I have to regroup and reassess. How does this change my decision? If I possibly can I like to ponder for a few days until I have my aha! moment. Otherwise I make the simplest choice first, like in my example of the chair. I can move the chair from one room to another easier than I can arrange the furniture again and again. Sometimes you have to do the big thing, but at least you’ve tried the simple ones first.

Sloppy vs Perfected

Life is about choices. Nothing’s inherently right or wrong, it’s only a matter of my preferences. Life is the rough draft and the final presentation is the last breath of life. In those last moments you review all the refining you’ve done. Sometimes the rough draft is alright. Hastily slapped together and just getting it done works better than not doing anything at all when it comes to kisses, food and proposals. I’d rather a quick kiss and an I love you than not ever, ever being told, but there comes a time for refining those choices. If you really love that person, eventually you have to refine your sloppy kisses into steps that have meaning. Whether it’s inviting them to coffee or not forgetting their birthday, you have to take the first step.

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No Change

Would I be different if I wasn’t able to change things? I’m a bit spoiled in that most things in my life, I’ve had the ability to change. Sometimes it took persistence and work, but after the sweat and callouses, the job got done. But would I be different if, feel different, or give different advice if I couldn’t change things?

I’m a great believer in not accepting the status quo. If I have a problem, I research and try, try again to fix it. Even with my migraines, which I know aren’t curable, I still try to discover the missing link of why I have migraines. Surely something is wrong with my body.

Maybe I just overlook the things I can’t change. I don’t have a formula on how to decide what can be changed and what can’t but it’s probably not necessary. Let me know what you think.

Things I haven’t been able to change:

  • my gender
  • migraines
  • phobias
  • highly reactive personality
  • physical strength

Here’s an interesting book for my fellow introverts or anyone wanting to understand them. It has a little to do with the subject above, but I learned a lot from it.

Quiet

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Getting the Agoraphobia Out In the Open

I have a touch of agoraphobia. I think. I’m not sure if that’s what it would be called exactly, but I don’t like leaving home. I also don’t like being without my car. Home and car are security blankets. My vehicles of protection. Shelter. It’s a strange feeling. I don’t like crowds of people like carnivals and malls, but I see that as being different from my agoraphobia. Away from home feels unsafe. I’m not relaxed. Everything revolves around getting finished with whatever it is that’s keeping me away from my safe place and when I’m finished I can collapse in relief. I’m home. I’m not sure what causes this feeling.

I’m not scared when I’m away. I’m just uncomfortable. To me it’s like having shoes that are too tight. I walk just fine, but it would feel so much better without them on. Or it’s like going outside a sunny day. The glare of the sun in your eyes makes everything you do a bit more difficult. That’s the best way I can describe it. I can function and most would never know that I have an issue, unless I tell them. I really like being at home.

The definition of agoraphobia is a fear of being outside or otherwise being in a situation from which one either cannot escape or from which escaping would be difficult or humiliating.  – Medicinenet.com

This is funny but true:

Physical symptoms are rare because most people with agoraphobia avoid situations that they believe will trigger panic. – MedicalNewsToday.com 

This isn’t a topic I think about much, except it seems to be creeping in just a bit more all the time. When I was younger I had a lot of responsibilities. People to care for and obligations to keep. Now, it’s only me. I can do most of my shopping online. I pay my bills and compare prices online. The day I can work from home, I may be in trouble. This is one reason I like running. It gets me outside in the sunshine and fresh air.

I wonder if my neighbors think I’m a psychopath. I’ve lived here for over 5 years and still don’t know anyone’s name. We’ve talked. They’ve helped me dig my car out of the snow. I even almost proposed to one guy. I felt so grateful for his helping me get unstuck. I wonder what he’d have thought about that.

Just a note to all of my friends: As I get older, you may have to intervene. I don’t ask for much, but if you buy me a ticket to a Thirty Seconds To Mars concert, I will leave my house. Even in the ice and snow. Right Nicole and David?

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Guidelines and Constriction

I find it in funny that I don’t like constriction but I do like guidelines. Sometimes those two are confusing to me. Where is the line? The difference isn’t easy to see. Maybe constriction is not as forgiving. There’s no understanding of why I do something. Just do or don’t. The sense of doom of being squeezed and there’s no way out. You must be here until we release you. Freedom calls to me. I’m pounding on the door and wiggling the handle.

Let me out!

Guidelines are more give and take. Your responsibilities are listed. You know they have to be done, but there is some forgiveness. Vast emptiness with no structure, makes it hard for me to know where I stand. A blank open room. A face with no emotion. I find it difficult to talk to people on the phone because there’s no facial expressions. Did they understand me?

We are more comfortable if a room has some type of identifying items. A bed and a dresser lets you know this is a sleeping area. The sink and the toilet tells you to clean up. Those are guidelines. You could sleep in the bathtub. You could also eat breakfast in bed or a midnight snack. It’s just a guideline.

Why and when do guidelines become constriction? If you were ever grounded to your bedroom as a child, you’ll be able to think of one instance. Suddenly, the very room you loved so much seems like a prison. It doesn’t matter if there’s a television and a computer, the very fact that you can’t leave that room makes it unbearable. As an adult all I want sometimes is to be told to go to my room. Please, let me sleep. I know also that if I became sick all I would want is get well and go back to work. I’m such a fickle person!

Do I have a purpose for my life? Are there guidelines? Rules or constrictions? How much is too much is up to me. Only I can decide how many rules make me uncomfortable.

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Can I Learn to One-Two Punch?

54190-todayquoteimagetoliveby1past I didn’t punch. Not because I wasn’t angry, but I always thought of retaliation as unbearable. Maybe I haven’t changed much. The only thing that I know has changed is if you punch me, I will punch back.

I’m probably not ever going to be an aggressive person. It just doesn’t suit me. There are times though when the fight wells up in me. It takes a lot of practice to get a naturally restrained person to go outside of their boundaries. To speak up when angry. To protest when offended. To say NO when someone pushes their buttons.

I do wonder, if you are trained to be assertive or non-assertive, can you retrain yourself to be the opposite? What happens when military foot soldiers come back into society? When someone that must be aggressive on a daily basis needs to pick up the toddler from daycare? Just a curiosity on my part. Hardly a science experiment, but I wonder if it’s as difficult as teaching a compliant personality, like myself, to push her boundaries.

My first tendency may always be to pull my punches. I run into a conflict, so I stop. Well, maybe I’ll wait. Another day would be better. I’ve even thought to myself, maybe it’s just not in the plan. What plan? Whose plan? I have to remind myself that I’m the one in charge of my life. My plan. I must stand back up, dust myself off, and climb back into the saddle. I’ll try again.

To take a snippet from Seth Godin,

Where, precisely, do you go in order to get permission to make a dent in the universe?

The accepted state is to be a cog. The preferred career is to follow the well-worn path, to read the instructions, to do what we’re told. It’s safer that way. Less responsibility. More people to blame.

When someone comes along and says, “not me, I’m going down a different path,” we flinch.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/10/do-you-need-a-permit.html

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So Sensitive

How sensitive is your alarm? Too touchy? Or do you barely notice when someone disturbs your peace? Do you hear your friend sigh and wonder if you’re boring him? I have problems keeping my personal alarm calibrated. It’s got an electrical short I think. Let me explain.

Sometimes when I’m with someone else, someone I care about, I interpret their facial expressions. Shall I say misinterpret? Psychologists call this mind reading if it’s done in the extreme. I’m always trying to forecast if it’s the best day for an activity, because somehow I should know. I also try to predict how someone will feel before I’ve even asked them a question.

Over-prepared. Excessive. Like gluing and taping the envelope closed. overcompensation is what the true issue is. I feel vulnerable and incapable, so to make up for my insecurities, I overcompensate. Good girl scouts are prepared, right? I don’t like to look unprepared. Incapable. So I come prepared. I’ve read about every possible scenario and kick myself if I missed one. MapQuest, GPS, Google map or whatever it takes to confirm the correct directions.

What happens if I didn’t prepare? What if I allowed myself to run out of milk? Would the world stop? I’m learning to sit with that. Because my alarm system is set on a hair-trigger, I interpret every frown, sigh, or eye roll as displeasure. Another person’s displeasure is the enemy of my well-being.

Things I’ve learned:

  • Speak up when something isn’t right. Too warm or too cold? If you have a group then negotiate your needs. Don’t just let your needs slide for the sake of civility. Giving up your rights, sacrificing your needs does not make a peaceful environment. Letting your opinion be heard and negotiating a beneficial compromise.
  • Don’t turn your alarm off for the sake of peace. That’s not true peace, that’s a vacuum. Something or someone will fill that empty space. You are not the only one with those needs. There are probably one or two others who are thinking the same thing, but are too afraid to speak up. Awareness is the object. Letting someone else know they’ve crossed your boundary.
  • The opposite is also true. Extremely overbearing, no one’s going to stand in my way attitudes are as hindering in life as being to nice. Just because we can’t change the thermostat all the way down to 68°F when you are having a hot flash, doesn’t mean your needs aren’t important. Maybe we can handle it a different way.

Who Is Real?

At first I thought you had two faces. but now I see one face is real and the other is just a lie. Do you believe that lie?

There was a time in my life that if someone told me their aspirations or beliefs, I didn’t look any farther. That was the person, the one they described to me. Now that I’ve had more experience in life, I realize the person screaming obscenities behind the smiling face is the true person.

I believe it was Maya Angelo that said, When someone shows you who they are, believe them. It’s a matter of training, or in my case, retraining my senses. At first it seems awkward. I see the two faces and I hear the voice speak that tells me they are kind and gentle and that I should believe them, and then there’s the punch in the face. Wow, where did that come from? Business leaders will promote new ideas. They’re for progress, the new style of management. Their employees are their greatest asset, they say. The want to allow their employees opportunity to grow. Then slowly, moment by moment, they take your privileges away. You’re called on the carpet for petty things. They look at you suspiciously and monitor your phones. Which to believe? Was it only the flavor of the month?

A spouse says they love you. They want to spend more time with you and can’t stand to be away from you. But they work late most nights and when they’re not working, they hole up in their office reading financial reports or playing video games. Hmmm, something isn’t syncing.

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I tend to be a bit naive, trusting, accepting. I’m also a fairly adaptable person so I take on too much. I step up too tall and I stay too long. Which is fine if I’m with my friends. They know me and I know them. I feel free to say Not today or I’m not feeling well. And we all understand each other and allow the other person to bow out gracefully.

My problem isn’t that I didn’t see the actions or even know the person was lying. My problem is that I wanted it to be true. My emotions were involved. I cared. And that’s where my conundrum is. Do I not care anymore? I have no wish to become an ice queen. Caring is human. I have learned to isolate my caring to smaller and more trusted groups. I’ve learned to detach from caring if  I realize I’ve over invested.  With age comes experience and that grows into wisdom.

I no longer believe your lie.

Factions and Boring Routines

Factions are natural. I’ve fought them all of my life and now I realize it’s like fighting the need to eat. Cells divide. Children grow up and leave home and develop their own families. Students leave the school and start their business. We break off into our own small groups as natural as we breathe air every day.

It takes a village. A small one is best. To grow and be strong we need exposure to variety. But constant variety is too stressful. We need some redundancy. If some type of normal isn’t established we can’t develop patterns and patterns are our foundation for growth. If I don’t take the I-44 highway to work everyday, I don’t know how long it will take to go to work. If I don’t have some way to calculate the time I need to leave for work, how do I know what time to wake up?  My routine is the same every work day. The alarm goes off. I hit snooze. It rings again and I get up and make my coffee and grab my lunch for later that day. I shower, dry my hair, apply my make up, and get dressed. It takes the same amount of time everyday. My morning routine allows me the time to sleep in just a bit longer. Redundancy.

It’s natural, all the cycles of growth, destruction, division. Nothing is meant for permanence. How often I forget that. Life changes and grows much like the kaleidoscope we played with as kids. I remember thinking as a kid how pretty they were. I’d pick one that was my favorite then it would change and the new one would be my favorite. They were all pretty. I couldn’t pick one. And sometimes that is painful. If you couldn’t choose one job or one house or even one spouse, you’d always be darting around like a mad person. You’d never develop a lasting relationship. Life would be shallow.

As much as redundancy gives me freedom to grow, I also know that change is the nature of the game. Nothing stays the same forever, not even death, but that’s a subject for another post.

Nature doesn’t recognize good and evil, Philip. Nature only recognizes balance and imbalance.  Walternate, Fringe