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When someone pushes your buttons, try a little tenderness

We’re all a little triggered, and we all need a bit more compassion. Even when it’s tough.

Supposedly Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  It’s certainly a necessary reminder for me right now. 

One of the only certainties I have about the current situation in our world and lives is that it’s hard. Damn hard. For all of us. The other certainty I have is that pretty much everyone, if not everyone, is triggered. Especially those of us with backgrounds of trauma. We’re definitely triggered.

What makes it even harder, for me at least, is that we’re all triggered in different ways. And your triggers and self-preservation reactions (or possibly those of the people I love and live with and work – albeit virtually – with) are different from mine. I don’t understand their reactions. They make no sense to me. They’re completely irrational and counter-productive from my point of view. (Unlike my reactions, which, in my mind, are generally wholly rational and best next steps.)

And your triggers and self-preservation reactions trigger me – and mine – even more.

Which is why I try to remind myself to have a generous spirit. To give all of you, and myself, a pass for your irrational, irritating responses and retaliations. To remember that, right now especially, EVERYONE I meet is fighting a hard battle. 

Some battles might seem easier than mine. Many are much, much, much tougher. It honestly doesn’t matter. When I want to lash out at someone – to call them out on their ugly, unnecessary, triggered behavior – I do my best to put my hand on my heart, take a deep breath (or five), and offer compassion to us all. When I can’t be reasonable and I’m stuck in fear or old, debilitating, self-lambasting thoughts (usually about the fact that I know I can’t be reasonable), I do my best to put my hand on my heart, take a deep breath (or five), and offer compassion to myself.

Remembering that everyone is fighting a hard battle, that we’re all triggered (and triggered differently), that I want to approach the world and everyone in it with generosity – all of this helps me find and share the love in my heart. Quite selfishly this eases my triggers and opens my eyes and soul to the beauty and connection around me. It reverses my negativity bias – the bias we all have to look for and focus on the negative and scary and to ignore or forget the positive and good.

We are all fighting a hard battle right now, and we are all in this together. That is so key for me to remember. How can I look for ways to smile (albeit through my facemask), to say thank you (like I did this morning as the garbage collectors worked in the rain), to share any hope and love and positivity I have? 

How can I remember to be generous in spirit – with myself, with my loved ones, with you, with those I simply don’t get and don’t like? How can I do my best to be my best and to bring forth and welcome the best of the human spirit?

We’re all a little triggered, and we all need a bit more compassion. Even when it’s tough.

Written by Lisa Kohn

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