Here are some of my thoughts on the idea/experience of co-triggering and triggering in general I don’t mean this to sound preachy or teachy…I’m really just thinking out loud for the most part and I am so grateful that this online resource exists where I can feel safe doing this and also know that I will get a polite and thoughtful response that will hopefully challenge and add to my current thinking.
I think so much unwanted experience is a matter of metaphorical confusion and why I think an understanding of how metaphor works and how to determine when metaphor is occurring is a fundamental skill. The way I’ve sorted this out for myself is probably largely a result of my NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) background. As a result I’m always interested in modelling how things work…the underlying structure or mechanics of an experience. I also think there is a huge opportunity to include facets of what Rick has described as our ‘Energetic Blueprint’ in all this. I haven’t included that but I’m inserting that understanding into a lot of different experiences in my life now and getting a lot out of it.
My sense is we run on a very simple ‘program’ as mammals. I think the fundamental mammalian OS is basically ‘Safe/Not Safe’. We have asked a lot of that simple program given the complexity that we’ve developed over the last 250,000 years or so. The complexity of our relationships with our environment and with other beings (communities, cities, countries) is no longer obvious or simple. For reasons of survival physical safety is the prime concern of the 'Safe/Not Safe OS. Emotional/psychological safety is secondary to physical safety in terms of survival for obvious reasons. If we no longer physically exist then there is no need to be concerned about our emotional/psychological state. Physical safety is primary.
So here’s where I think the ‘Safe/Not Safe’ OS meets it’s limitations…when physical safety gets confused with emotional safety. I think it plays out something like this: if someone hits me with a shovel and wounds me I can quite rightly and accurately say that I was injured by that person’s actions. There is a very obvious and demonstrable ‘cause/effect’ in play. I can point to my injury…I can touch it. However, if someone aims words at me or a look (instead of a shovel) and I feel ’ hit ’ (or ‘wounded’ or ‘injured’) by those words (or that look) an important distinction becomes necessary IMO. ’ Hit ’ becomes metaphorical and not literal. The experience of being ’ hit ’ is not the same thing as being hit. That can be proven very easily and quickly if you want to fetch me a shovel…
But because we feel it in our body (uncomfortable emotional sensations) our very simple primitive OS gets triggered ’ as if ‘’ (the metaphor appears!) we’d been actually hit and the physical survival program kicks us into our primitive survival brain/responses. All the physiological stuff kicks in…the cortisol…the adrenaline for fight/flight…etc. Except there’s nothing physical to battle. The enemy is invisible and essentially non-physical…it’s conceptual…it’s only words which are sound waves that hit our eardrums (a true physical impact of sorts, not metaphorical) or a facial expression that triggers us which is simply a pattern of light impacting our retinas…not really a physical threat. So to keep congruent with the primitive OS, which can only perceive in terms of a physical threat, we attribute that threat to the person that spoke the words or cast the glance. Now we have something physical to battle which is congruent with our primitive OS. We behave and react as if the metaphor was literal.
As a result of feeling uncomfortable sensations in the body being emotionally ’ hit ’ is interpreted as being essentially the same thing as physically hit by our very simplistic OS. This is the state I observe that many if not most people live in a lot of the time. They haven’t acquired the skill to be able to separate a metaphorical experience from a literal experience. So to my mind that’s a HUGE area to sort out in order to find emotional freedom. To recognize the metaphorical experience as opposed to literal. In fact, maybe the difference between living in survival/primal brain vs thrival/emotional freedom is the capacity to sort actual threat from perceived/metaphorical threat.
And this is why ‘the pause’ is of critical importance. It’s the opportunity to perceive from a different OS, a more evolved and more recent system that has the capacity to understand metaphorical experience and distinguish it from literal experience. It can distinguish between ’ hit ’ and hit. It’s an OS that is not so primal and not so insistent that everything is life or death…that there are other experiences and therefore other responses beyond the physiological reactions of adrenaline and fight/flight/freeze…there is thriving. The breath and the pause provides that opportunity.
I try my best to be aware of how I function and am affected in a world of potential triggers and how I quite often allow myself to get pulled into the survival OS. I’ve had a lifetime of practice! But there always remains the opportunity for the pause and the breath.