How often have you found yourself engaged in the same reoccurring pattern of conflict? You witness offensive behavior that leads to your feelings of aggravation, which in turn, leads to you retaliating in some form?
Part two of the cycle starts off with the other person witnessing your retaliation, feeling aggravated and then retaliating against you.
This type of pattern plays out in our personal and workplace relationships.
So how do you bring it to an end? There is a ubiquitous saying that states; “you will continue to go through what you are experiencing until you learn the lesson the experience is trying to teach you.”
For those who have dealt with bullying in childhood, how well do you handle an obnoxious co-worker? For those who never made peace with their parents, how well do you handle a spouse whose behaviors remind you of a parent?
The root of the problem is trauma
Trauma is any relative catastrophic experience which we never imagined we would experience.
It’s no wonder even small traumas experienced by children are consciously carried into adulthood. Most traumas are internalized in the brain stem. The brain stem, popularly known as the reptilian brain, is responsible for a good deal of our automatic physiological functions such as breathing, body temperature, and the startle reflex. So it’s no surprise that the majority of traumas are stored in this part of the brain. The memory becomes engrained in the part of the brain responsible for physical survival, this is purposeful so we can react strongly and quickly to anything that may be dangerous.
Given the automated function of the brain stem, its method of reasoning is too simplistic for issues that call for complicated reasoning. People can and do recover from trauma, but the process involves coming to depersonalize and accept the trauma for what is while creating a virtual or abstract scenario in which you get to respond differently. Doing so allows you to use your frontal cortex in recovering from the trauma, an area of the brain most adapted for problem-solving.
This is easier said than done, but it is also very possible. One of the most important techniques for interrupting the vicious cycle of fight or flight is to do nothing when you are triggered or feel tempted to retaliate. Doing nothing does not only mean choosing to not retaliate, but it also means not allowing yourself to overindulgence in vices, such as food, sex, drugs, etc, etc.
Doing nothing means being perfectly still and allowing your body and mind to allow the overwhelming feelings of grief, pain, and confusion to run its course until they subside.
So imagine what it would be like to not take what you perceive as an insult personally? How would your relationships be different? What would change?
All thoughts and feelings related to this post are most welcome, to include agreements and disagreements.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach practicing in Tucson AZ.” He also works with people online. If you would like to learn more, you are welcome to call and book your first appointment or fill out our contact form and click Send.