“When you let others “push your buttons,” you give away power. You give them power to trigger powerful emotions at will. Once you are aware of your own reactions, you can disconnect the buttons so they no longer work. When buttons don’t work, people eventually stop pushing them. When that happens, you have claimed meaningful power.” Lost in the Mirror by Richard Moskovitz
This quote definitely inspired a response. I can succinctly remember the occasion when the light switched on for me regarding triggers.
I had been at work, and something happened that instantly put me in a state of hyper-arousal. This was a unique situation, because it was actually the first time I became of aware of what was happening inside me, and how it was causing me to act.
Suddenly, without even thinking, I sprang into action, as if I was on my way to put out a fire! My feet started moving very quickly, my heart started palpitating, I started hyperventilating, my mind started racing a mile a minute.
The second I realized what was overtaking me, I was able to stop myself. I stopped my feet dead in their tracks. I called a halt to the barrage of emotional energy that was flooding my brain. I began to shut out the ruminations that were pouring thru my mind, I sat down and focused on calming my breathing.
I began to relax, I sat there for a moment, and decided that whatever I thought about the importance of that which I was allowing to affect me in such a way. This was no crisis mind you. This was not a medical emergency. It was something of such little importance that I was aghast to realize how something so insignificant could have such a power to cause an automatic and involuntary reaction, a trigger as it is called.
This was the beginning of a new approach to my recovery. This was the moment I began to learn the difference between 'reaction' and 'response'.
Prior to this, reaction ruled me; it had power over me. It dictated the course of action that i would follow. It was the bridle in the horses mouth that when tugged left made me go left; when tugged right, made me go right.
In response mode, I can refuse the bridle. I just take it off, and make decisions without being controlled by my out of control emotions.
Later on during a time of reflection, I thought about this occasion, and while outside outside of reactivity mode with my wits about me, I was in a calm enough place to begin to recognize that there were patterns in my life when this often happened. Recognizing the patterns allowed me to get to know my motivations better, and then begin to question their validity.
Most of the deeper issues that spawned the type of reactivity mentioned above I soon realized were tied into broader themes of rejection and abandonment, shame and self esteem that ruled my life from the shadows, and held dominance over my present moments.
As I got to know and understand myself and my motivations better in times of reflective responsive lucidity, I began to create new patterns of response in my life, and in that way, I took back my power and began to reclaim now.