(4) Responding instead of reacting when things get tense or when you’re triggered
EXAMPLE: My partner and I have a relationship boundary that we don't process anything after 10pm. Leaving things “unfinished” in my relationship is my emotional kryptonite. It's the place I get THE MOST reactive, regress into survival mode and reach for unhealthy coping mechanism. So on any particular night, when I'm triggered, want to process something, it's after 10pm and my partner wants to hold our relationship agreement, I react intensely reaching for my unhealthy coping mechanism. I can provoke him into more conflict, guilt trip him for not working it out with me, turn over forcefully in the bed, huff, puff and pull the blanket over to my side aggressively and end it by falling asleep angry and waking up emotionally hungover.
HEALING: Learning about your unique reactive patterns in partnership is the key to moving from reacting to responding. I've learned through my own inner work that my core issue as an anxiously attached woman is fear of feeling my original abandonment wound and re-experiencing painful separation anxiety. It’s why I insist on staying in to process and work it out to mine and my partner’s emotional and energetic detriment. My healing is to try and let go of him and sit with the feelings and thoughts arising inside and do my best to self soothe. In truth they all go back to my fear of abandonment and separation anxiety. In the morning I can calmly return to the issue without adding all this extra stuff. It takes trust to let go into the unknown. It takes A LOT of self-love. And it takes courage process the old feelings rather than putting it on my partner. It’s terrifying... but more truth, intimacy and healthy partnership is created that way.
LESSON: Your partner is a mirror for you. When they reflect something back to you that is troubling often we want to "smash the mirror." This is reactivity. Partnership can help you heal by giving you a space to slow down and investigate old triggers and respond in safe and emotionally healthy ways.