Last week I wrote a blog on changing our behavior and subsequently the behaviors of those around us. To initiate this change process we need to first identify our triggers.
This week, I wanted to tease out the concept of triggers a bit further.
I read an excellent book called “The Conscious Parent” by Dr Shefali Tsabary. In Chapter 5 she discusses many things including triggers and states that most of us are able to identify our triggers on a superficial level.
Our triggers will vary, they might be things like: disrespect, being ignored, defiance, dishonesty, some violation of our values, wasting time, rudeness, inefficiency, our children saying they will do something but not do it…
The author claims that we have to ask ourselves these questions:
What in us is actually being triggered?
What, on an elemental level, are we experiencing?
“To be triggered is to be in resistance to whatever may be happening in our life”
– Dr Shefali Tsabary
What this essentially means is that we refuse to accept the current reality around the trigger. She refers to this as refusing to accept the “AS IS” of a situation or moment.
In order to be able to respond to the unfolding of each moment, the as is, we need to be conscious and aware of the moment and allow ourselves to see it more as:
“it is what it is”.
Acceptance of the “as is”, I believe, is a fundamental practice often over-looked by many parents today. Many parents often find themselves on auto-pilot, parenting unconsciously for much of the time.
It is our inability to accept the current reality, as it is, and be mindful and conscious of it that keeps us stuck, unable to move forward and initiate change.
When we resist the ‘as is’ of a situation, react to and fight what we are seeing, we are prone to disregard our children’s feelings and miss the opportunity to bring about change. We miss the opportunity to accept the as is and respond with what is actually needed in the moment.
Just recently I had to step back and “unpack my thinking” to stop myself from saying something I knew I would regret to my daughter. She had homework to do and was wasting away the precious little time she had to do it.
I asked myself the two questions above:
What in me was being triggered?
What, on an elemental level, was I experiencing?
I am an organized person. I use my time well and I get triggered when my children are being inefficient with their time, especially when doing so will impact me. I also struggle when things are left to the last minute. It stresses me out.
Boom, there it was.
My daughter is different to me and these differences challenge and trigger me on many levels. I wanted her to go with my agenda, with the way in which I would plan getting the homework done. Then she wouldn’t waste her time.
The reality is that she has her own way of managing her time. I had to accept her as she is, accept her way of doing her homework. In the moment, I had to accept the as is: a 12 year old quite happy to leave her homework to the last minute.
The outcome? She got her homework done. Yes she was rushed and yes she experienced her time run out but guess what? I stayed out of it. It didn’t impact me and the next afternoon she started her homework a bit earlier. I said nothing but felt warm inside.
I had changed my response to her. This time it was conscious, not the usual unconscious diatribe about how she always leaves things to the last minute and wastes so much time. Doing so brought about a change in how she approached her homework and more importantly, preserved our relationship.
To change the course of a tantrum, a moment of teenage attitude or any behavior, we have to change the way we respond to it and parent from a place of consciousness by accepting the AS IS.
I would highly recommend reading this wonderful book. Dr Shefali has many thought provoking concepts and great ideas for parents wanting to become more conscious and take their parenting to another level altogether.