A while back, I greatly expanded my twitter feed. I did this with an expectation that I’d be triggered. The world didn’t disappoint me and I was triggered by God ripping into someone…
It’s been a while since I was triggered to the point of replying to a stranger so I looked inward at the nature, and source, of my reaction.
Here’s what I noticed:
The essence of powerful emotion is energy. Whether the emotion is anger, envy, grief, fear, love or joy… they are all just energy. It’s up to me to “tag” the energy and classify the emotion – my tagging is a function of culture, context and habit.
The energy has a clear physical signature in my body. I have an opportunity to “feel” an emotion before it overtakes my decision making.
When I experience these emotions they are triggered by something touching the raw nerve of personal weakness.
All strong emotion is an opportunity to discover something about myself, as creator of my emotional experience.
Once I understand the above, I can work at the margin of my emotional life to shape my understanding and experience.
Situations that prompt me to automatically respond are extremely valuable – those are my raw nerves. However, because I was emotionally out-of-control, I need time to process.
My response (to God) was how I settle myself down when I’m out of control. Each One A Holy Soul – is a reminder to myself that people that trigger me are about me, not them.
Those five words distract my mind long enough so I slow my reaction time. My internal life might be unpleasant but, hopefully, I react far less often. Not-reaction avoids the human tendency to pass along discomfort.
Later, I can think about my reaction and try to break-the-chain in my own emotional life, which improves my capacity to achieve serenity.
Some principles that I’ve found helpful:
- Channel the energy of strong emotions into positive action – as a middle-aged man, I’m grateful for the extra energy. I need it!
- Remember it is all about me, my mind is classifying my experiences into emotional states
- Remember it is all about me, pain is triggered by my mind touching my own weaknesses. Own my weaknesses.
- Change at the margin
- Don’t act on anger