Being Triggered


I got annoyed this morning by a motorist who cut in front of me without indicating. ‘Off with her head’ was my inner response and for a few minutes while behind her, she was my mortal enemy! Well maybe not quite, but out of the window were any thoughts of this person as a fellow sovereign human full of precious qualities and inner treasures!

This is the primitive part of the brain in action. It is highly sensitised to identifying threat, and in this instance it was someone moving into what it perceived as MY territory. I can laugh now at the ridiculousness of it but it reminded me of the importance of vigilance. I was probably mid mind wandering, and not being present in the moment the reaction took place. A few seconds later the feeling was released back to where it came and I felt compassion for myself, for having inherited a primitive bit of brain and the challenges it brings.

I find that what takes place in the car reveals a lot to me about myself and it is useful for developing honesty. In the car you are protected in a relatively private space while still having to interact with others. I have observed aggressive thoughts and feelings like the ones this morning, get impatient with learners or slow old people, and I have observed wanting to impress others, wanting to look cool, and competitiveness too, like wanting to overtake someone who overtook me earlier perhaps.

It got me thinking that waking up is not what I imagined it to be like. I thought when I was younger that some sort of ‘experience’ would happen and in a flash I would cross a threshold into total wisdom and calmness and love forevermore. Maybe that happens for some, but for me it’s been long song of becoming honest, facing absolutely everything and leaving no stone unturned. And acceptance of it all too, helped by self compassion.

Being triggered like this and looking at it honestly helps me feel compassion and understanding for others who have been triggered into rage, even the ones who have done awful things to others as a result. The primitive mind is a powerful force to be reckoned with, and few of us have been given much guidance or training on how to manage and soothe these responses. We are all in this together.

Learning that my true identity is the sea within which these waves (of reactions) exist has helped me enormously with this process. Sometime the wave is a huge tsunami, and threatens to overwhelm. But it subsides soon enough, and the ocean remains.

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