Many of us are extremely emotionally intelligent in some
areas and have wounds that haven’t healed in other areas. We go along seeming
to be happy, functional and well adjusted and suddenly find ourselves in a
minefield. For me, this most often
occurs when I am dealing with my parents. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, they
are great people. But a simple question about my job or relationship forces the
crazy out in less than a second. Afterwards, I’m looking at the wreckage and
WTF just happened?!
These minefields are never caused by the simple question they are asking. Instead they are based on old wounds that haven’t been addressed.
If you’ve ever spent time with your parents and gone from 0-60 in three seconds flat, you need to read on:
First, the good news: These minefields can be cleared way more easily than the computer game “Minesweeper.” (Anyone remember playing that?)
The time is now! We attract mirror images of the stories we tell ourselves. So not dealing with this now will only continue this pattern. To start, let’s look at how this minefield was created in the first place:
Healthy relationships and interactions are created through a combination of observation, communication, and the willingness to be vulnerable. As we get to know people, we watch their behavior, risk being vulnerable by expressing our own thoughts and then notice the reaction we receive. If all goes well: healthy relationship. The issue is that we don’t feel confident and secure all the time because of our fears and old wounds. For example, when my parents ask me about my career and I get pissed, it is rubbing up on the fear that they don’t think I am competent and I might not be successful. This fear has no basis in reality and is a wound I’ve needed to heal.
Minefields are created when we ground our actions in those fears rather than a place of love, knowing we are worthy and complete exactly as we are.
Thus the emotional trigger is never about the question itself, rather the old wound that wasn’t healed.
When we’re younger, our feelings can get hurt easily. We don’t always have the emotional maturity not to internalize criticism. We often misunderstand comments, take things personally, and construct our view of ourselves around it. Once we feel wounded, we carry this with us.
We tend to reactivate the pain in any situation that slightly resembles the original scenario.
The resulting anxiety leads to odd or exaggerated responses. You add all these fears and situations up, and you’re walking through life like it’s a minefield.
So how do we de-mine our lives?
Recognize. Analyze. Tranquilize.
The emotional triggers are not about what’s wrong with the world or your parents, it’s about shifting our perception back to the truth: that we are complete and worthwhile exactly as we are. These A-bombs are just below your consciousness. Recognizing them is the first step to clearing them out.
Sure, we’d love it if our therapist were on call for us 24/7, but the truth is that you need to be able to coach yourself out of the negative spiral in order to create sustainable happiness. Think back to the last time you went from 0-60. Be honest and ask yourself:
- “What was I feeling right before
I reacted? Anger? Anxiety? Something else?” Allow the emotion to surface & feel it.
- “What thoughts do I associate with that
feeling?” Perhaps you might think, “I’ll never be successful,” or “I’m not good
- “When did these thoughts begin?” You may not be able to pinpoint an exact moment or trauma,
there may be a few painful memories blended together. But, the general social
context will help you to uncover what was happening, who was there, and how you
got hurt. Now ask yourself,
- “Do I really want to keep recreating this
trauma?” Chances are, no part of you wants to let the mean girls, critical
parents, or abusive ex dictate your feelings for the rest of your life.
Time to demolish the demons in your
mind. To do this, imagine that
early trauma. If there’s a bully or key player, kindly tell them to “F*** off!”
What’s about to happen has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with
you. Don’t focus on the instigator. Instead, walk right up to yourself and
respond with empathy.
How would you speak to a best friend going through the same situation?
Do that for yourself and ooze love. It might get emotional before it gets clearer. Remember, there are no magic words. The right words are whatever brings you peace.
Once you feel calmer, look at the situations that trigger negative emotions in your life right now. List the similarities & differences between those situations and the past traumas that originally wounded you. Imagine walking through these situations with tranquility. Release the anger, fear and anxiety, recognizing that none of it is real.
One of the most powerful tools I’ve learned from coaching is that I can coach myself anytime, anyplace. By Recognizing, Analyzing, and Tranquilizing, I am more able to identify old wounds for what they truly are: fears not based in reality. I’m not saying I never go ape-shit on my parents when they piss me off, but I’m able to see it coming and recognize it for what it is. Or, at the very least, apologize to my mother an hour later.
The Spiritual Perspective:
On a spiritual level, your soul chose your parents to learn some of its hardest lessons. Relationships, whether romantic or familial, are our greatest spiritual assignments. The Universe is self-correcting. This means you will continue to receive the lessons you need to learn until you actually learn them.
Until you heal old wounds and can stand firm in who you are, your parents will continue to piss you off. So recognize what it’s really about and be honest with yourself. Create a new story based on your truth and watch how your reactions shift and results change. You and your parents will thank you.