by: Staci Stallings
We’re going to talk first about what I call “general triggers.” General triggers are those things that encompass all four layers rather than a one layer issue touching off other layers.
For example, a physical layer trigger might be being tired. That’s a physical issue which triggers defaults in you that may, in fact, affect the other layers. (Remember the layers are: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual –and sometimes social).
A general trigger, on the other hand, is something that very often triggers defaults in all the layers simultaneously.
Today we are going to talk about relationships defaults and triggers.
Now clearly “relationships” encompasses a lot of ground. There is the relationship you have or had with your parents, your spouse, your children, your co-workers, people at church, people at Wal-Mart and on and on.
First off, I want you to take a good long time to think about your first relationships–those with your parents. Often, it is in those two relationships that you see many patterns of how you deal or don’t deal with other relationships now.
For example, if your mother was exacting and unkind if things were not done perfectly, your default trigger with yourself may be to try to be perfect or it may be a propensity to give up at the slightest hint of something being difficult. With others you may be exacting or short with those who aren’t “perfect.”
If your father was gone for work a lot or if he left the family, your default may be to fear abandonment. This can lead to physical defaults such as pulling away from others and “needing space.” Emotionally it could trigger a default fear of commitment or a “knowing” that others will leave you.
Think about these two relationships first. What do they tell you about your defaults?
Do you get instantly angry when something goes wrong? Did you “get that” or “learn that” from your father or mother?
Do you get hurt or upset easily? Is this a pattern you learned at home?
Think through how you witnessed your parents handle a crisis. Did they jump in and try to solve it or disengage from the situation? Did they communicate or shut themselves off? If they communicated, was it rational and in control or was it a screaming match and highly emotional?
Note as you think about this the four layers. If upset happened, what were your parents defaults? Think about the four layers — how did they react physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and socially?
What about when they fought with each other? What defaults did a fight trigger in each of them? Can you see your patterns now reflected in them–either imitating them or mirroring them (being the exact opposite of what they did)?
I’m convinced that many of our defaults came from watching our parents coupled with our innate wiring. The more you untangle these defaults, unpack them, look at them, study them, and understand them, the more you are free to CHOOSE how you want to respond instead of being at the mercy of old patterns.
Now that you’ve considered your parents, I want you to go one circle out–to your siblings.
Think about their defaults and your defaults with them.
I spoke with a friend the other day who is coming to terms with one of his defaults which is to always take a backseat emotionally and just try to keep the peace. We talked about his family, how he had older brothers with very strong personalities–who very often clashed. I said, “I think you grew up trying to be the peacemaker, and whatever you wanted or needed wasn’t as important as trying to keep the peace. Now you are repeating that pattern in other relationships.”
Are you that person with your siblings? Do you try to keep peace? Or are you the troublemaker, the one with all the answers, the boss, or the baby?
What defaults did you learn and utilize to make those relationships work? Or if they are not working, what defaults might be standing in the way of reconciliation?
For a moment, think of your spouse and the defaults you learned while you were dating that person. Did those defaults carry over into your marriage or did they change once you were married? What are your defaults now? What defaults would you like to change? What defaults weaken the marriage? How and what can you change about those defaults?
Finally for today, think about your children. What are your defaults with each child? Usually parents will develop a set of defaults with each child rooted in things such as birth order and timing (did the second one come too soon and so you were stressed with that child and an older one)? What defaults do the kids have with each other that trigger your defaults?
The point to all of this is not to just ask a lot of questions but for the questions to help you think about and tease out what default triggers are making life stressful and then to rethink those defaults and manually reset them if necessary.
Now that we’ve gotten to the end, go back up and seriously consider the questions. What are your defaults? What are your default triggers? And which ones would you like to change?