I found a super simple relationship-trigger-defuse-tool, and it consists of only 7 words.
I used it last Saturday.
This is what happened: my boyfriend Ivo told me he’d arrive a few hours later than I expected. He also added a smiley to the message, which created a substantial explosion in my system.
From happy and jumping, I went to being highly disappointed. Something had triggered me. “You are HAPPY that you’re coming later !?!?” A wave of emotion flooded me, and I knew that if I wouldn’t use some super tool, I’d just be passively angry at Ivo and retreat in my shell.
I remembered a short sentence I learnt from Brené Brown, and I threw it into the mix.
Instead of talking over it (“oh it’s ok, no problem” – my past technique), and instead of sending passive-aggressive messages (“yeah take your time, I’ll wait here again for you to come”), I sent him this:
“I’m making up the story in my head that I always have to wait to see what I get when it comes to your time and attention like I’m some sort of toy you can do with whatever you want. I’m also making up the story that you don’t realize how much I long for you, and that you see this [the delay of the date] as a good (punishing) practice for me to become less dependent – and that’s why you added that smiley.”
While writing this, the real pain broke through.
The illusion that this had anything to do with Ivo faded away.
Vague images passed by, like a very young version of me waiting for hours on a schoolyard, and nobody coming to pick me up. The possibility of abortion when I was in the womb.
Sobbing and sobbing and sobbing, and also a part of me that was holding me at the same time.
Getting glimpses of the big master picture, where feeling worthless leads to insecurity, which feels so bad that it gets covered by all kinds of fake behavior that tries to convince the world that all is ok and that tries to prove itself by making itself bigger.
And the image of a pure shining beauty underneath.
Ivo responded with nothing but love, which brought even more softness in the process.
What I love about this tool is that it combines radical responsibility with radical emotional openness.
Before, I’d often tried to get rid of heavy emotions by telling myself that they ‘weren’t real’, and I could just focus on something happy and positive.
That’s not much different from telling your newly born baby that its’ tears aren’t real, and tell it to look at the beautiful sun outside when it’s crying its’ lungs out.
Oh and don’t get me wrong. This positive-thinking technique definitely has its’ merits but in BALANCE.
For people who tend to overindulge in their emotions and totally get lost in them, partly neglecting them can be useful sometimes.
However, when you’re the one that tends to suppress difficult stuff (like me), the invitation is mostly to finally allow yourself to feel all of it.
And Brené can be your sidekick.
By saying “I’m making up the story in my head that…..” – you take away the tendency to project your pain when you’re triggered.
By taking this responsibility, you are now free to share the raw and unedited story of what the hurt part in you thinks is happening.
And this is big.
We often try to reason away our hurts, especially when they’re triggered by some seemingly insignificant situation – like my boyfriend coming a few hours later than expected.
My invitation: let it all be there, all the “unreasonable” thoughts and feelings.
Expose them to light, and love is all there will be left.