Have you ever been really cranky? Maybe more than cranky. Maybe something happened and your day, or in relationship with others, and you flipped your lid and got really angry. I want to acknowledge right off the top that for me anger always represents that there are a whole lot of needs that are going unnoticed or unmet. Or both.
I worked with a client the other day who was feeling really angry. Really cranky. The trigger was witnessing the inaction of others. They felt so angry about it, because what they saw as an inaction, the people in their life were being distracted by social media, by technology. They really like their computers or spending time with their friends which was triggering a lot of emotional dysregulation in their relationship with these people. What they noticed is that it was interrupting motivation, being empowered to be in full choice and experience shared reality. This trigger was really big for them.
When I talk about a trigger, I’m talking about when you get really uncomfortable in your skin. What happening is your system is alerting you that something is arising that is bugging you. When something is bugging you, it would be really great to pay attention to it and see what’s happening underneath that.
With my client, what they were noticing as we unpacked it was that they were telling themselves, “It’s just the final straw!” When these other people don’t follow through with something, it’s just too frustrating for them. They would tell themselves that those people only care about others, they don’t care about me.
It was something about being unnoticed or dismissed or looked over the top of. Yet, you know what was possible? To slow time down. To slow time down enough to be in the inner experience. As we slowed time down the client tapped into a memory of being five years old. They were getting to visit at their dads as their parents had split up and they had two separate homes.
Their dad was talking about building a tree house, and they got so excited at the idea of getting to have a tree house! As time went on – the tree house didn’t happen. There was no follow through with it. So, this child-self was sitting with the tension and nausea that came up in their body because there was so much shame. And, as five-year old’s do, they began to take the responsibility on themselves. Because, when we are little, we have so much love for others in our life. Even when they don’t follow through.
This child was thinking, “What’s wrong with us? We must be really bad. Maybe I’m a weirdo.” The core belief was “Whatever I do is never enough, it’s just never enough.”
As we stayed with the body the client noticed a sense of alarm and feeling really alone. Going a little deeper beneath that, there was a layer of sadness. Taking time to sit right there, with this little five-year-old felt-sense of self. Breathing into that and noticing, what are the needs, and making some guesses.
“Do you really like it when there is reliability? When someone says something, they actually do it? And follow through? And they stay in relationship with you too? Do you like consistency, curiosity and warmth in relationships and are you just really hungry for that?”
The little one said, “Yes, absolutely!”
So, taking time to be in our inner experience is really radical and important work. It’s not easy! It can be really super uncomfortable in our bodies. Yet, when we are willing to do that and slow down to practice noticing our emotions, noticing our implicit sea, or inner sea of experience. Slowing down and checking in with our hearts, allowing there to be some accompaniment that is warm and not in a hurry, but willing to be right there where we are.
When we can begin to practice that consistently, it starts to change the neuropathways that we have, to be able to stay in relationship with ourselves. Then we can stay in relationship with others.