Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Our Triggers Are Our Ego Getting Its Toes Stepped On

I had a revelation yesterday.  I had been having a low-energy day, not really feeling motivated to do much.  But it was a nice, sunny afternoon, so I decided to take my dogs out for an atypical afternoon walk (we usually walk in the mornings).  Like usual, this walk got stuff moving in my head and that's when this realization hit me.

Triggers aren't about the other person, they're about us. 

This might not be news to some of you, but it was news to me.  At least in the way I was thinking about it at that moment. 

I always thought of triggers as something someone else does that gets on my nerves.  They're bothering meThey're the one with the "character flaw."

But here's what hit me:  It's not about what the other person is doing.  It's about how I'm perceiving it. 

One of my biggest triggers, I realized recently, is when I perceive someone as being condescending. 

As long as I can remember I would have told you that I don't like condescending people.  I find them annoying, self-righteous, and just unpleasant to be around, much less try to have a conversation with. 

You know how they say what we dislike most in other people is often what we dislike most in ourselves (whether we see it or not)?  (hint: I even said this in my own blog yesterday)  Well, I have been told I can be condescending.  I know I can be, so I make a conscious effort not to be, but apparently sometimes I still come across that way.  (I was told so in my last relationship... even at times when I didn't feel like I was being condescending, he told me that's how it felt.) 

Ok.  So, there's that.  I'm aware and working on it. 

But there's more.


The reason condescending people are such a trigger to me (or I should say, perceived condescending people), is because it's an issue where my ego is strongest.  When I feel like someone is talking down to me, my ego really flares up.  It's like the other person is stepping all over my ego's toes.  All over them.  And my ego doesn't like that one bit. 

So I realized that's what our triggers denote to us.  It's a major ego point being brought to our attention.  When we get triggered, it should now be a mental trigger to step back and observe the ego.  To really make an effort to get in Spirit, and out of the ego that is flaring up. 

That's what I intend to practice the next time I feel someone is being condescending towards me.


I'd like to dive a little deeper here.   

Tying our triggers not to other people, but to ourselves, and specifically, to our ego, why are our triggers what they are?  Why do people have different triggers?  I think it all goes back to areas in our lives where we either feel better than or less than other people. 

You may have grown up not being valued, listened to, or ignored.  I know I felt some of that myself.  So you may consequently feel like you're not important and not valuable (a shadow belief of mine as well).  Therefore, a trigger may be when, now in your adult life, you feel people aren't listening to you.  Because that's an area where you feel weak and "not as good as" other people. 

OR a trigger may be a result of an area you "know" you are.  An area of confidence.  So you don't like someone challenging it.  But is it true confidence?  This is what I'd like to examine.


Speaking personally with my trigger of perceived condescension.... I grew up always succeeded in school, being one of the smartest in my class (or at least getting the best grades).  Learning and doing well academically always came easy to me.  My mom also always told me how smart I was and always expected me to do well.  I see now, as I dive deeper into this in my own thoughts and memories that I was taught this trigger by my mom. 

She would get personally offended when someone succeeded more academically than I did.  Not angry at me, mind you, but personally offended herself.  Once I remember I got an A- in choir in high school (because I was quiet, didn't like to sing out, and also am probably a little tone deaf...lol...) and my mom had it out with my choir teacher.  I remember her being very upset that my GPA would drop because of a little minus sign in choir, of all subjects.  I, on the other hand, was not bothered by the grade one bit. 

Then, as we approached graduation, I remember my mom being offended that I wasn't first or second in my class.  I was fourth.  Perfect for me... I didn't want to give a commencement speech AT ALL.  But she would talk about the three people "ahead of me" and put them down.  She'd make comments about how I'm smarter, how they didn't deserve it, etc. 

These are two distinct experiences I remember.  I wonder how many others there were when I was younger that made a lasting impression on my mind. 

I also wonder, now, if my "not liking" people who are condescending is really because I fear that they are smarter than me, and if someone is smarter than me, then who am I?  What am I left with? 

Being smart has been one thing in my life I "knew" about myself.  One area I was extremely confident in.  But now I wonder if it's true confidence, or if it's just the identity I created (and was created for me as a young kid by my mom), that my ego is afraid to "let slip."


That quote by Deepak Chopra sums it up quite nicely.  My social mask is that I was/am smart.  That was my self-image.  My role.  And when people "threaten" that role, by showing or appearing smarter than me, my ego flips out.  Fear. 

Feeling "smarter than other people" is something I've felt as long as I can remember.  It's where my ego has a "leg up."  And egos love that.  They love to feel "better than" in whatever way they can.  So that's why, I believe now, I get so triggered by people who, I feel, are acting like they're smarter than me.  My ego is raging and saying, "Now hold on a minute!  You are NOT smarter than me!  I am smarter than YOU!"  Total ego talk.  It's my ego trying ever-so-hard to reaffirm its position.  To stake, and keep, it's claim on the top of the mountain. 


But there is no mountain.  It's all ego. 

This is coming to my attention now because it's the ripe opportunity for me to practice being more in Spirit.  To let go of my ego a little more.


So the next time I feel my ego's little toes are getting stepped on, I'll know what's really going on.  I'm more aware.  It's all part of the process.  All a part of the growth, evolvement, and enlightenment. 




  1. This is SUCH a great topic Sarah. It's great that you've noticed this tendency in yourself, it can be so hard to see your own projections or egoic beliefs when it feels like it's other people who are irritating you. I think the hardest part is noticing it in the moment, rather than looking back and realising after the fact :)

    1. Thanks, Becks! Yeah, the "real" test will be to be present and aware when I'm IN a situation where I feel triggered and annoyed. That, I think, is what every human strives for...to be able to stay calm and centered all the time. To keep the awareness about us at all times. To not get wrapped up in ego or let it take over.
      Great opportunities ahead! :)

  2. Wow...i really needed to read this. Thank you.