07/28/2014 02:08 pm ET Updated Sep 27, 2014

'Triggers' and The Moment of Choice

A major challenge on the healing path is becoming aware of the moment of choice regarding our intent when our fear and anxiety are triggered.

All of us have "triggers" that set off our fear or anxiety and may lead to our reactivity -- anger, defensiveness, withdrawal, compliance, or resistance. We are especially triggered in our important relationships.

Take a moment right now to think about what, in your relationships, triggers you into your fear or anxiety.

Are you triggered by:

  • Another's anger, annoyance, criticism, judgment or rejection?
  • Another's withdrawal or resistance?
  • A partner leaving on a trip?
  • A partner looking at another attractive person?
  • Another's lack of consideration?
  • Another's messiness?
  • Another's forgetfulness?
  • When you feel invisible to someone who is important to you?
  • Another's unhappiness, whining or complaining?
While you might not be aware of it, we all have at least a second to choose how we want to respond to the trigger -- and most times more than a second. We either go on automatic pilot and unconsciously choose our standard protective behavior, or we take the second or two to breathe, tune in, and become conscious of this moment of choice -- the old "count to 10" before responding. If you choose to take the breath and tune in, you have a chance of responding from your loving adult self rather reacting from your ego wounded self. You have the chance to move into compassion for yourself. You have a chance to choose the intent to learn or to disengage from the situation. You have the chance to speak your truth if that is the appropriate thing to do. You have a chance to open to your higher self and ask about the loving action toward yourself and the other in this situation. With practice, you can learn to do all of this in the time it takes to take a deep breath.

The challenge is remembering to take the breath and remembering to tune in to yourself and your spiritual guidance. It is hard to remember to do this when your fight or flight reaction is triggered. However, when it is very important to you to respond as a loving adult rather than from your wounded self, you will practice and practice until you remember more and more of the time.

When you don't remember, compassionately accept it rather than judge yourself. It is very hard to remember to consciously choose your response when your body is in the stress response of fight, flight or freeze. Each time you do remember, notice how wonderful you feel -- regardless of what the other person is doing. Notice that your painful feelings come more from your reactivity than from the other person's behavior. Notice how free and empowered you feel when you respond as a loving adult, taking loving care of yourself rather than abandoning yourself in reaction to your fear and anxiety.

When you don't remember, take some time to go over the situation and decide how you wish you would have responded. If, each time you forget the moment of choice, you decide how you wish you would have responded and practice it, you will find yourself responding as an adult more and more of the time.

It is very challenging to remember when you are tired, hungry, ill, or overly stressed from things other than the fear and anxiety that is being triggered. Be easy on yourself. Give yourself lots of leeway to mess up without any self-criticism. This is one of the greatest challenges you will ever face, so don't get discouraged when you keep forgetting. Just keep trying, congratulating yourself when you do remember, and rehearsing what you want to do next time. Slowly, with lots of practice, you will become conscious of the moment of choice.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day at-Home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul - For partnered individuals & couples, & people who want to be partnered."

Learn to connect with your spiritual guidance and manifest your dreams! Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Frequency: Your Spiritual Connection and The Art of Manifestation"

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