What makes us tick?
There is a very real reason why we act, think, and respond the way we do. This is not a case of right or wrong, good or bad, but moreover, this is simply a matter of fact that regards why we act think and respond the way we do.
Last night, I was put in a situation where I thought, maybe it’s me . . .
Maybe it’s the way I see things or maybe, just maybe, the way I see things is a result of my past history and my brain is wired to respond in a certain way. Maybe it’s like I said to you: the mind is nothing more than a computer, which simulates and calculates the mathematics of past history and it combines this with assumptions and the main stressors, which we hold on to like a mathematic theorem, which in all honesty is only a theory, but in our minds the theory is fact, regardless to whether our math is accurate or not.
When entering and maintaining a transformational change, at least in my case, one of the factors I had to understand are my triggers. My triggers (or stressors) if left the same would keep me the same. This means I needed to learn what causes me to believe that I have to react. I had to recognize where my fears come from. And, I needed to understand that my thoughts and feelings are not always an accurate science. Sometimes, my thoughts and feelings are based on old childish recollections that stem from early memories.
Below is the Googled definition of the word “Trigger”
Trigger: [trig-er] noun
- A small projecting tongue in a firearm that when pressed by the finger, actuates the mechanism that discharges the weapon.
- A device, as a lever, the pulling or pressing of which releases a detent or spring.
- Anything, as an act or event that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.
Understanding and identifying triggers:
I never knew why I thought the way I thought or acted or acted as I acted. Or maybe I did know. Perhaps, deep down, I knew the reasons behind my thoughts and reactions. In fact, I know I did; however, I lacked the ability to identify and the vocabulary to explain my sources of anxiety.
This is where my reactions come from. This is where my coping devices came in. And by coping devices, I mean this in regards the way I would respond. There is a reason why I yell. In my case, I yell most when I am afraid or feel a lack of control. I yell when I invest my time poorly and I react (without regard to fact) because in my mind, I calculate the math all day long
Fear is my biggest trigger. Fear of rejection. Fear of feeling. Fear of change. I have a favorite quote by Socrates.
“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is a law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”
This explains triggers very well. I am triggered most when I feel intimidated in any way, shape, or form. I am triggered when I am afraid; therefore, I yell, curse, or react in response to my fear instead of behave intellectually and respond to the incident itself.
I am triggered by the fear of pain and fear of rejection, which in past times, I would respond with a push/pull mentality. This meant I would childishly push people away when they would come to offer help but yet I would childishly pull them back when I noticed they were walking away. I have fears of being alone and believing I am unloved or unwanted, unacceptable and unremarkable. I am afraid to feel, seem,, or appear to look foolish. These are some of my triggers, which like Pavlov’s dog when the dinner bell rang; they are the factors which lead to my response.
Some of these responses were inwardly. Some were outwardly and obvious. Some of my responses were self-destructive and continuously degenerative, in which case, although I was trying to better myself, in my efforts to feel better, —the matters only became worse and the hole only grew deeper.Not only would the hole grow deeper, the anxiety grew worse because I would try to dig myself out without realizing I was only making matters worse.
My reactions whether I sought through a behavioral response by yelling and screaming to fight back, or if hid behind a mask to hide my fears, or if I soothed the uncomfortable itch in my mind by satiating this with an outside ingredient; truth is these are the things that leashed me to a series of behaviors that I never wished to have.
I never wanted to be angry. I never wanted to be “The bad guy,” but I wore the uniform well because hey, at least I felt protected.
I never asked to think I was a victim. At the same time, I never asked to be overweight or eat compulsively. I never asked to have anxiety disorders or panic attacks. I never asked to have depression or alcoholism or addiction in my life. I certainly never asked to be bullied or picked on when I was small. Of all thing I’ve ever asked for, I know I never asked for the recollections of my childhood’s secret past, which are haunting to me and downright painful.
This is why I use the quote from Socrates. My mind is the predicament. I don’t want to feel pain. I want to be free of change and free of the obligations of life and death. But yes, it goes exactly as Socrates says. Change is law and no amount of pretending will alter this reality.
So how do I improve?
I have been studying a course in hypnotherapy and learning about a process called Neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the change in neural pathways and synapses that occurs due to certain factors, like behavior, environment, or neural processes. During such changes, the brain engages in synaptic pruning, deleting the neural connections that are no longer necessary or useful, and strengthening the necessary ones.
Basically, this is just a wordy definition and a long drawn out way of saying neuroplasticity is just rewiring the brain and changing our thought processes.
I recall a short story I heard in my first treatment center about a man that walked down the same street every day, and at the same spot, the man fell in a hole. Eventually, the man decided he did not want to fall in the hole anymore, so he tried to walk carefully, but the hole was still there. Of course, this caused the man to trip and fall.
Sometimes the man walked on the opposite side of the street because as far as he was concerned this was the only street that could get him to where he wanted to go. But falling continuously, pain after pain, scrape after scrape and bruise after bruise, eventually, the man had to learn he needed to find another street to walk down.
It is said that insanity is repeated the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. With regards to my inanity, I cannot say that I expected different results; however, I never believed there was any other way I could react, respond, or protect myself. And while yes, the results were never what I wished for, and yes, my reactions led me towards the point of diminishing returns, still, at least there was a result. At least there was a momentary reprieve (or distraction) for a while
I had to learn that my cognitive thought is not an accurate science. I had to learn that my math skills were calculating the wrong numbers. Put simply, I had to learn that thoughts and feelings are not rational or irrational. They are what they are. They are just thoughts and feelings.
Everything we do is to satiate an internal need or want. Why do people punch walls? Is it to break something and feel better? Or, is it because they want the situation to stop, but it won’t so as a source of intimidation, they react violently (and childishly) to make it stop or create fear in others around them.
Why do people drink to get drunk or use to get high? Is it simply because it feels good? Or, one could argue that by slipping into the excess, for the moment, all the triggers have been temporarily disabled and the threat of feeling the internal tantrums are gone.
People eat because this fits a need. I used to overeat because this soothed a need in me to feel nurtured and cared for.
Why do people cut themselves?
As private and personal as this question is, I admit to my reasons to be as such. When I was young, I cut myself because I could not verbalize nor understand the reasons why I felt the way I did.
I could not seem to find a way to register the depression or define my pain. All I knew is I was in emotional pain that made no sense to me; however, I understood the rules of engagement when it came to physical pain. Therefore, when the blade opened a tiny cut in my skin and a red bubble of blood surfaced; alas, I was able to materialize the pain in a way, which I could easily understand. Also, like an emotional boil being lanced, the blood was a symbolic puss, which oozed out to relieve the pressure beneath my emotional skin.
Over the years, I have been learning new ways of living. Over the years, I have spent time rewiring the pathways in my brain so that I am not like the man walking down the same street and falling down the same hole. I have had to learn to rethink my thinking and to learn better math skills. I’ve had to change my theories and learn more about the deception of my perception.
Over the years, I have had to learn how to change my thinking, change my behavior, and the more distant I become from the shame and the blame systems I was a part of and always looked to find or shed the fault, which drained my energy to a point of emotional bankruptcy, and the further I go from the lies I believed about me and the behaviors I depended upon, the easier it is to find new pathways towards a better life.
After all, isn’t that the goal?
To have a better life, I mean.
To live better . . .
To be better . . .
To walk down the street and not be afraid to fall in a hole . . .
Sounds good to me