How to step back when others trigger us

Are someone else’s actions affecting you this week? It might be with your partner, your sibling, a colleague at work, or one of your kids? Are you taking it personally and blaming yourself? Or do feel you’ve done something wrong and are giving yourself a hard time about it? Are you quick to react without giving yourself the time to step back and see what else might be going on?

If you stop for a moment to look at the situation, can you see the bigger picture? When we stop, we give ourselves an opportunity to see a different perspective, and then hopefully take a different course of action to what we usually do.

How do you usually respond to someone? Do you respond in anger? Do you give people the silent treatment? Do you feel guilty? Do you get anxious or stressed? Do you blame yourself? Do you want to fix it? Or do you bury your head and hope it’ll all go away?

So, how can we move beyond this and accept someone’s actions and see that it’s not entirely our own responsibility and that the other person also has to take some of the responsibility for the situation.

  • Firstly, it’s important to be able to take a step back and ask yourself, “What is really going on in this situation? What’s going on for me and what’s going on for the other person?”
  • Secondly, recognise how we respond is entirely our own choice. Always.
  • Thirdly, be sure to understand what it is you need in the moment. We can then ask the other person what they may need.
  • Fourthly, know that you’ve done your best and that you will be ok, even if the other person can’t meet you half way.

When we jump into a situation out of fear, hurt or rejection, we often do this to satisfy our own needs. Not the needs of the other person involved. You may do it to make yourself feel better.  You might even recognise that you’ve always responded in the same way. You might be trying to justify why you’ve done something. You might be apologising profusely for something you weren’t even aware that you did, or perhaps responding with your own silence.

With practice of the first step, we get better at making different choices for ourselves and thereby changing the outcome of the things we seem to experience over and over again.

I know I’ve got better at noticing when I keep finding myself in similar situations! It’s annoying and really frustrating!! But I’m quicker at recognising which part is my own responsibility and which part is someone else. This empowers me and helps me to make better and better choices in my life.

Remember: start small, and build from there.
Perhaps note down in a notebook the experiences that you have where you feel things could have gone differently. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – what might you have done differently? How might you do that next time?

Perhaps change one different thing each day this week. The list above are just some ideas; has something else just popped into your head that you could change? Do that!

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