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  • Writer's pictureJody Glynn Patrick

Frustrated? How to expose the real trigger

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

You could bring a problem to work that really has you fuming mad, but unless you have a saintly colleague waiting in the wings, you’re about to raise your frustration level even higher. More likely, someone will try to “fix” your problem with impractical advice, or an office buddy will be reminded of when they had a not-so-similar situation and shift the attention to their past dramas.

Your lunch pal might assure you how things could be worse, minimizing your feelings. Or your chosen confidant will ask to check back with you later “after you cool down” – or they will suddenly remember something they have to do.

Recognize these “listeners”? If only they knew what to ask! To help you chill out when you’re flaming hot, let's get to the root of your mad response. Answer these three questions; it could re-engage your brain to help you vent and solve your own problem:

Say Your Truth. Say it out loud and note your tone as your voice naturally emphasises your key triggers – no, not words like “glad”, “sad” “mad” or “afraid” – our core emotional feelings — but rather the words you practically shout or spit out. “He is so darn stupid! He never listens to me and we always wind up having to spend our weekends helping his sister. It isn’t fair!”

Consider each inflammatory word in turn. Discount "never" or "always" -- those are words you say to inflate the drama. Concentrate on stupid, listens, sister and fair.

What are you most angry about? Lets connect your emotional dots. Are you most angry that your partner is stupid? That he never listens? That his sister too often takes priority over you, or that you feel he lacks a backbone when it comes to family? Are you most irked because he isn’t fair in his dealings with you?

One of your “truths” is the actual emotional trigger that was pulled. Not all of those words are tied to the real trigger – they are just descriptive of the backdrop presented in this situation. But the real word (or words) likely was said. You might be frustrated that you are dating someone who is less intelligent or quick on their feet than you, and it is proving to be an unexpected disappointment or growing inconvenience in your life. You might be most upset that you are feeling as if you come second to other members of his family. It might be that you don’t feel you have control over your own schedule or desires due to the relationship or your own inability to speak your wants and desires.

Once you get down to the core problem (as you see or feel it), then you can begin to make logical plans or choices to actually address the situation instead of hit your head against it.

Too few people are good listeners. But the truest fact of all is that too few of us actually listen to our own words and try to move forward through our own problems. Instead, we live our exhausting little dramas over and over again, holding all of that steam inside or erupting at the most inopportune time, with a fury that most people find off-putting. It takes courage to calm down and consider a few straightforward questions honestly.

The good news is that courage is where change lives. It is in courage that we might also find compassion for others and for self – and even forgiveness. Best of all, just acknowledging the root of a problem or attitude sometimes is all we need to “vent” and steer safely, in the future, around this particular bump in our journey.

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