Triggers (Part 4)

This week we will continue to talk about core patterns and how we can begin to heal these present day conflicts as well as begin the healing process for the old wounds (“pain”) that form the triggers.

As I said in last week’s newsletter, “Every couple that comes into my office is getting triggered by the other spouse.

Almost always, core fights are trigger vs. trigger, agitation vs. agitation and child vs. child.”

Last week we discussed Step 1, which is to Recognize and own your part in the core pattern.  Without ownership, we blame.  Owning your injuries from the past will allow you to focus on YOU.  Remember, all relationship problems are “co-created”, so blaming the other person is really a form of self blindness and denial.

So what’s the next step?

Step 2: Release the other person from the severity of your emotions.

I have seen some fights in my office that have been real doozies.   One couple raged at one another for over 5 minutes, oblivious to my presence.  Short of bucket of water in the face, my “nice” attempts to get their attention were to no avail.   Eventually all couples when triggered, will settle down and the War of the Roseswill begin to deescalate.

Knowing this, I looked for my chance and at just the right moment, I rose to my feet and gave them a 30 second standing ovation complete with a few whistles and hoots.

They just stared at me like I was nuts.

I said, “WOW!  Thank you for showing me how nasty your core fights really are.”

“That was gruesome.”

“The good news?   I can now see clearly what happens in your home.”

“You poor guys… my heart goes out to you.”

“I feel sorry for your kids as well.  I remember the terror of having to listen to a raging parent.”

I now had their undivided attention.

I explained to them the real problem.  That is, when the reaction does not match the infraction, the other person is being punished for how bad and deeply hurt that the attacker feels inside.

The rage is indiscriminate.  It doesn’t matter who just triggered them, it ALL pours out on the nearest lightening rod.   All 30,000 jig-a-watts of voltage lash out at the unlucky recipient that had been stored up from an early age.

The raging attacker cannot discriminate as well, as to how much volatility to display toward the current victim.  They just let go and unleash.  They feel better, yet the other person does not.  They’ve just been electrocuted.

The anger developed way before the attacker ever met the victim.    The victim did not cause the original hurt that is being felt today inside the person being triggered, and as such does not deserve the full jolt.

Yes I know that other people do hurt us.  Yet, it is unfair to inappropriately punish them.

Feeling some conviction and guilt?  If the answer is yes, then you are on the road to healing.

Perhaps you could say to your spouse, “I know it’s unfair to punish you so severely for my childhood injuries caused by others.”  “I will try to not take all my anger out on you when I am hurt.”

If you are willing to do this, then you are really on the road to recovery and relational restitution.

Thanks and blessings,


Milan & Kay

Next week: Step 3: Reconcile the past.