…the cashier at the supermarket was rude to me. Someone cut me off on the freeway AND flipped me off. My team lost. My job interview didn’t go well. My wife doesn’t load the dishwasher correctly. It’s raining outside.
It can be easy to look at the outside to justify how you’re feeling on the inside. But the truth is, whatever feeling or emotion you’re experiencing is there because it lives inside of you. It resides in a fully furnished room that you tend to and keep fully stocked, even though most of the time you don’t even know you’re doing it. Now, it’s true that the cashier being snippety with you in the checkout line may have triggered a feeling in you, but they didn’t create that feeling. The feeling is always there, holding up a finger to the wind, just waiting for its moment in the sun. It was trained, most likely in childhood, or maybe as the result of a traumatic experience. Maybe you had a kindergarten teacher that snapped at you because you were about to put a glue stick in your mouth. It scared you. It embarrassed you. As a five-year-old, you’re not capable of looking at the situation logically and understanding the teacher isn’t trying to scare you or embarrass you. She just wanted to stop you from eating glue. Instead, your brain planted a flag right there saying, “This is how we feel when someone raises their voice to us.” So when the cashier makes a snide remark about how you stacked your items on the conveyor belt, you feel that burning in your cheeks. You feel the eyes of the other people in line boring into you. There’s no thought of your kindergarten teacher or the glue stick, but those old feelings are there. You’re embarrassed, and the embarrassment turns into anger. Maybe even rage. You briefly consider picking up the carton of eggs and smashing it over the cashier’s head. Thankfully, you don’t do that, but you pay for your groceries and you storm out of the supermarket and you spend the rest of the afternoon blaming your bad mood on a cashier who was probably just having a bad day. For her, it was nothing personal. In fact, she probably forgot all about you the moment you walked away. Yet there she is, living in your head, rent free.
Certainly you can’t go through life expecting to never be treated rudely, or get cut off on the freeway, or have a job interview go sideways. There is always going to be something that triggers particular emotional patterns. And if those patterns are present as you navigate your way through the world, then you are most likely also bringing those patterns into your personal relationships. You can walk away from a rude cashier, but it’s not so easy if the person activating fear based emotional patterns is a friend, or a sibling, or a spouse. So is there a way to change or correct these emotional patterns without resorting to smashing eggs over someone’s head? Popular self-help methods will offer a variety of strategies on this topic. I recently read a blog post on this topic that suggested you and your partner should meet each other halfway in order to “solve” each other’s painful emotions. At first glance, this may seem completely reasonable. I mean, you’re in this thing together, right? Let’s say, for example, your spouse is about to go on a business trip cross-country. You are terrified of flying and the very thought of your spouse getting on an airplane fills you with anxiety. You tell your spouse you’re going to be a complete wreck the entire time they're in the air and you insist they call you the moment the plane touches down. Now, it’s not unreasonable to ask for a phone call, but if your entire emotional state is dependent on receiving that call, you’re deferring accountability for your mental-emotional state to another person. You’re handing over your experience of life to that person. And that, my friends, is called codependency.
Here’s the deal: The only person responsible for your mental and emotional state is…drumroll…YOU! No one, no thing, no force of nature, is culpable for how you feel. If you’re driving a clown car, but you hate clowns, it’s not the clowns' fault. Clearly, you shouldn’t be a clown car driver. At IMS we train the nervous system to react to emotional triggers in ways that align with the person we want to be rather than the person we’ve been programmed to be. We explore the root causes of our emotional patterns, we learn to recognize them, and then we train a different response. You can’t erase the kindergarten teacher yelling at you for eating glue, but you can train yourself to not want to throw food items at a grumpy grocery clerk.
If you’re ready to start your training, click HERE and sign up for one of our Power Series Weekends for only $200. You don’t have to be bound by emotional patterns you never asked for in the first place.