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If we were totally sane, we would respond to the present only on its own terms; we would
worry or be angered or give way to anxiety only as much as the circumstances before us
actually dictated. But we are not – of course – most of us quite sane, as evidenced by
the way that we respond with such disproportion to certain events in the here and now. We
have occasional tendencies to get wildly more worried, angry and anxious than we should,
if we were simply following the facts in front of us. What causes us difficulty is that we
are wired to feel and respond according to precedent rather than on the basis of a dispassionate
evaluation of the present, and in particular we follow emotional tracks laid down in the
distant past – when many of us were victims of deeply unrepresentative and unusually painful
experiences, from which we continue to make panicky, gloomy and unhelpful extrapolations.
In other words, we are, to use the inelegant but useful contemporary term, easily (far
too easily) 'triggered'. That is, situations in the present elicit from us with undue haste
responses formed by, and frankly better suited to, a past whose details we have forgotten
and whose distinctiveness we cannot now perceive. A tricky but not objectively existentially
troubling email will hence convince us at once that this is The End. An item in the
news will plunge us immediately into devastating guilt or boundless fury. The prospect of a
party we have to go to or a speech we need to give brings on unbudgeable, monumental
terror. The triggering happens so fast, there is no chance to observe the process and see
the way in which we cede our powers of evaluation from present to past. Our minds are simply
flooded with panic, we lose our bearings, the rational faculties shut down and we are
lost, perhaps for days, in the caverns of the mind. We get triggered because we don't
have a direct link with objective reality: each of us approaches the outer world through
the prism of an inner world with a more or less tenuous connection to it. In this inner
world of ours lies a repository of expectations formed through our unique histories; our internal
working models, or our best guesses, of what the outer world will be like; how others will
respond to us, what they will say if we complain, how things will turn out when there is a challenge.
Crucially, and this is what we of course miss when we have been triggered, the inner world
isn't the outer world. It contains generalisations and extrapolations from a past that may be
far harder, stranger and more dangerous than the present. Psychologists have a handy rule
of thumb to alert us to the disproportionate side of our responses: if we experience anxiety
or anger above a five out of ten, they tell us, our response is likely to be fuelled not
by the issue before us, but by a past we're overlooking. In other words, we have to believe
(contrary to our feelings) that the issue won't be what it seems to be about. Image
result for david hockney The best way to free ourselves from being so eagerly triggered
is to refuse to believe in most of what overwhelmingly and rapidly frightens or angers us. We must
learn to adopt a robust suspicion of our first impulses. It isn't that there is nothing
scary or worrying in the outer world whatsoever, simply that our initial responses are liable
to be without proportion or without calculation of adult strength, resilience, resourcefulness
or options. Another way to approach our panic and anxiety is to remember that, despite appearances,
we are not a single person or unified 'I'. We are made up of an assemblage or a blend
of parts dating right back to our earliest days. In a way we can't easily track, different
events will engage with different parts of us. Some of our most troubled moments are
when a difficulty in the present isn't handled by an adult part, but by a part formed when
we were six months or three years old. We end up so scared because the challenge of
public speaking or of a seduction or a worry at work has, unbeknownst to the adult part
of us, been left in the hands a very scared toddler. In the circumstances, it can help
to ask ourselves at points not what 'we' are afraid of but what a 'part' of us
is worried about – and to learn more carefully to differentiate the parts in question. What
might we tell a part of us in order for it not to be so scared? Image result for david
hockney flowers It is a milestone of maturity when we start to understand what triggers
us and why – and to take steps to mitigate the most self-harming of our responses. Whatever
our past seems to tell us, perhaps there won't be a catastrophe, perhaps we're not about
to be killed or humiliated unbearably. Perhaps we have adult capacities for survival. Too
much of our past is inside us in a way we don't recognise or learn to make allowances
for. We should dare to approach many of our triggers like a starting pistol or a fire
alarm that we will from now on, for well-grounded reasons, refuse to listen to.
Our resilience cards are designed to help us become tougher in the face of adversity. To learn more follow the link on your screen now.
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為何我們會那麼容易被激怒 (Why Are We so Easily 'triggered'?)

3364 分類 收藏
Tracy Wang 發佈於 2018 年 11 月 26 日    Tracy Wang 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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