Taking the temperature
The room went cold.
It was as though the air was sucked out of the room.
When processing our lived experience, it’s frequently helpful to look at and explore opportunities presented by language that articulates the dynamics of our existence.
I hot with so hot with anger it took all I had not to explode. Eventually I cooled down.
Do these statements sound familiar?
When people are hot, it can be helpful to ask how hot are you? Are you wet wood that’s smoldering, or more like a bonfire? Are you the core of a nuclear reactor hot, or more like the heart of the sun hot?
If you’re hot, how long does it take to cool down?
How do you do it?
Are you pulsing, throbbing, crackling, raging or exploding with heat? How does the heat move? How do you move when you heat up? This can be used as a clue to know when you’re heating up without being aware that you’re heating up.
We can use physical, dynamic behavioral information as way of knowing how we show up. When we know how we show up in the world, we can make maps of “what happens before.”
What happens before you explode?
What happens before you burn up inside?
What happens before you do that thing you do that you hate about yourself?
Typically therapists like to talk about external triggers as t’he thing that happens before.’
This is garbage. Instead of seeing how we go off the rails, we place that control outside of ourselves. We hit the trigger. It’s our fault for hitting it and the trigger’s fault for existing. It’s a plea: Change for me world! We’re either tasked with having someone or something remove the trigger or we’re encouraged to avoid triggering things all together. Soooo boring.
In doing this, we remove responsibility for our experience. Responsibility gets placed outside of ourselves to the other, to the trigger. Tripping over triggers is what victims do. Remarkable fools take responsibility for the movement of energy in their bodies once triggers are tripped.
Once triggered and hot, how do you cool down / how do you sooth yourself?
Triggers, things that make us upset are part of life. Expecting the world not to trigger us is a delusion held by ordinary, every day, fools. Remarkable Fools know how to move with and integrate the energy of their triggers. Remarkable Fools can take information that emerges from triggers to find new ways to dance and play with the realities of their lives.
Remarkable Fools know that the story in their heads is just a story, not the truth. If we want to grow, we need to interrupt our stories. Interrupting stories promotes learning.
When we are looking to change, we’re looking to learn. When we tell a story, we know the ending already. We lived the experience we’re attempting to describe. Even though the person we’re telling a story to doesn’t know the ending, we do. Storytelling is more about teaching than learning.
Interrupting stories to explore the dynamics of the experience can help us process differently. We can explore and re-frame our experiences with new, descriptive, temperature related data. How long does the change take? What temperature are you? What changed with you to allow this change in temperature?
What does this mean for you?
If you are a leader, a teacher or therapist, listen to language around temperature. Interrupt stories and probe more. This is great data to be mined and a wonderful way to help people have a new relationship with themselves and the world.
"Remarkable fools take responsibility for the movement of energy in their bodies once triggers are tripped."
As long as what others do and say bothers us, we are not in control of ourselves. Someone else is.
I had a triggering event in the last week. I have come to recognize a trigger by the tunnel I pass through to the related event(s) in my past and the feelings that don't wash over, so much, as engulf me. I can't think. Panic. As a thinker, not being able to think and respond, that's my tell. This isn't happening. It's not possible. Disbelief. The same awful feelings as being disempowered and disrespected originally. It stayed for days. It went away in a snap. During a conversation about what happened with someone who loves me immensely, they, who had witnessed the words and had not realized the impact, recognized my feelings and the small role they played in the exchange, not knowing the effect on me and expressed remorse. That's all it took. Heartfelt remorse and am expression of love from an unaware participant who got caught up. I forgave them for any harm, as they didn't know about the history and their intention was a laugh. In forgiving them, I realized I forgave the person who said the words and who knows better, who knows it has harmful and did it anyway. My love for the innocent in the situation cleared the energy. I truly don't think that this situation will bother me again. I am not eager to find out. But the sensation of pure love on top of the pain of being hurt was immensely healing.
Realizing the effect on us of what others say and do and dissipating those feelings is literally how we self-regulate and get out of victim mode. Forgiveness puts us in the driver's seat. Victims don't drive. There's a lot for me to continue to think about here.