What if your trauma response is amnesia? Part 2
How to have healthy relationships
You feel like you did something wrong. You shut down. The other person is upset. Conversation over. What the heck just happened?!
Trauma. More specifically, suppressed trauma.
Conversations can go sideways very quickly when triggered emotions are in play.
If you’ve ever had a conversation with someone and noticed your response didn’t seem to make sense, you may have been hijacked. If you’ve not read Part 1, you may want to head there and check that out first.
When you’re excited about sharing something with someone, you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable enough to share. And when that person doesn’t respond as you may have hoped or expected, you’re deflated. You may even question yourself. You’re still trying to understand where the conversation went wrong.
Let me share with you one potential perspective from the person triggered.
The inner dialogue when you share the good news:
Wow! that’s so amazing! I’m excited and happy for you!
Interestingly, that’s also what you hear. But we are energetic beings. You feel the real message subconsciously. It’s so loud that you’re taken aback, confused, irritated, silenced. There’s no reason for you to continue sharing because the energy received in response is one of self-pity, scarcity, fear, and unworthiness.
So what do you do to prevent that incident and incidents like those from over-drafting your relationship bank account?
5 steps you can take to prevent an overdraft (aka protect yourself and the relationship)
- Recognize and acknowledge it for what it is. It’s a trauma response and has nothing to do with you or what you shared. (This takes maturity and emotional intelligence)
- Pausing the conversation with compassion, not judgment actually makes a deposit into the joint account. The other person may not recognize they spiraled. “Why don’t we resume this conversation another time, I can tell something upset you” can alert them to where the breakdown happened.
- Remember that their response is their responsibility, not yours. If you feel you can’t share good news with them because you're trying to protect them, give yourself permission to release that burden.
- Give them grace, space, and time. They probably aren’t doing that for themselves. They may even be beating themselves up for “ruining” your moment.
- When emotions are less heightened, and if the relationship is worth the effort, having a conversation about the incident serves both parties. It can help mitigate the chances of it happening again. But if it does, you already have a game plan. You may even be able to find humor.
The thing is the person who inadvertently triggered someone could in turn be triggered at some point. The majority of the population has unprocessed trauma. Everyone responds differently.
Recognizing where you are in either role enables you to respond in ways that deposit rather than withdraw from the joint account. The key, taking responsibility for your part and allowing the other to take responsibility for theirs.
If you have other tips you would like to share, please do. Someone may understand your perspective more clearly.
Thank you for reading!