We can often find ourselves feeling an impulse (or trigger) to respond to someone or something in our lives. There are certain people for example that just trigger us into feelings of anger or outrage. We may also find ourselves somewhat automatically dismissing a situation regardless of the circumstances. And again, we may find ourselves disregarding the behavior of someone simply because we like them or we automatically agree with a particular position. Why and how does this happen?
We have a tendency as humans to want to compartmentalize our lives, the people in it, and the circumstances or situations around us. Putting things into convenient buckets is a quick way to filter what we are experiencing. Filters can take the form of values or perspectives we may hold. While filters are a convenient way for us to make sense of our world, when we fail to allow them to be challenged, we lose an opportunity to grow. Our filters are the mechanism that create triggers.
For example, if I were to consider someone’s religious tradition as a means of quickly associating certain behaviors or attitudes they may hold, then I’m more likely to be triggered by that person if I disagree in any way with that perspective. Rather than getting to truly know the person, I have taken a shortcut and now have placed them in a group that I may consider antithetical to my own values. This is where the root of ‘first impressions are lasting impressions’ can create breakdowns and problems.
The key to understanding your filters is found in what triggers you. You see this all the time in politics, religion, race, professions, and sexual orientation. We put all people of a certain group into the same exact category and quickly dismiss the true aspects of who they are. Then when you meet someone or face a situation that seems to fit into one of these preconceived buckets, we attribute all the behaviors we associate with that group to that person. At that point, words begin to matter less as we filter what we hear through a lens and we no longer see the individual.
As humans, this is a typical reaction. What is important though is how you choose to respond. When you get triggered, it’s an opportunity to challenge your automatic and preconceived perspective. This can be a very uncomfortable process especially when your filters are deeply rooted in your own sense of identity. For example, you may have a filter that asserts that homeless people are lazy, alcoholic, a panhandler, or mentally disturbed. Then when a homeless person approaches you on the street for food or money, you no longer see the person but instead react with disdain and mistrust. While these things may hold true for some homeless, it is not universal. So instead of challenging yourself to embrace the opportunity, you ignore them as if they aren’t human.
Triggers are a great mechanism to examine and challenge your own deeply held views, biases, and beliefs. They expose our filters and allow us to grow spiritually. When you can recognize you’ve been triggered, you can either accept what is automatically coming up or you can pause and consider the larger opportunity. This doesn’t mean you become an open door for everyone and everything to simply flood into your life. It does however allow you to regularly examine and test what you hold true in your heart. In the end, you may find yourself changing or even eliminating filters that no longer serve your highest good.
I believe in the transformative power of human connection to elevate joy, restore balance, and support inner healing as you seek your highest purpose. My purpose in life is to be a guide, to share the wisdom of the Universe I’ve been gifted with, and to see others succeed. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see others step into their purpose in a vibrant and highly energetic way.
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