Here’s a question that was emailed to us that we feel is so common that we’re answering it in an article.
“Hi first let me say, I love your articles and I use your suggestions an awful lot. :)
I just wanted to know one thing I read your article this morning and it was me totally because, I have had very unhealthy relationships in the past. physically,mentally, verbally, sexually abused I work on all of this everyday and try my best to not get triggered when my boyfriend has nothing to do with any of this, He is the most healthiest relationship we have both ever had..But I do get triggered and I remember one time he said, I am not I'll use bob that floored me..I took a step back hurt somewhat and he was right that was a trigger of my past. my question is how do i communicate that with him? I know its not my past relationship but being hurt with words so many times I just can't seem to help my self...please help”
Here’s our answer:
We are thrilled to hear that you are using our tools and that you are in a healthy relationship currently. All of us have past experiences that affect our behavior. This is such a powerful question because HOW do we separate what is happening NOW vs. what occurred in the PAST?
It is important to communicate how you feel in the moment by following our template:
I feel ___________.
When you _____________.
Can we please ______________?
When you are triggered in the moment, take a deep breath. Look at your partner. Communicate your FEELINGS in that moment.
When you use the template above, you are not only taking responsibility for your feelings, you are offering a resolution. Sometimes the “Can we please…” can be “Would you please…” if you wish to ask something of your partner to assist you.
We know that when the emotion is out of proportion to the current situation that can be a clue that you’ve been triggered by past events.
The key is to realize that you are the one who is responsible for your feelings, not anyone else. You have to take that responsibility in how you communicate with your partner. That is the power in the script we’ve provided.
Now he may or may not respond the way that you want him to and once again that is not your responsibility. As long as you are communicating in a way that is not attacking or accusing then you can allow him to react without taking it personally.
Here is an easy way to define it for yourself: When someone has a problem with you it is their problem. When you have a problem with someone it is your problem.
You’ve already acknowledged that you are being triggered because of your past history. He is also doing the same. Taking responsibility means owning that this is your stuff coming up and doing some introspection about the source of the reaction, reminding yourself that he is a different person, and getting to the root of the emotional reaction.
Does it come from a need for control or security? Maybe it comes from a need to be approved of? Or abandonment? When you realize what the issue really is, then you can begin to break the emotional trance.
Bring yourself into the present moment by becoming aware of the room around you. Literally “come to your senses” by noticing the colors, feeling your feet on the floor, becoming aware of the sounds going on around you and as you do that ask yourself some questions.
In this moment do I need to be in control? Do I need to be more secure?