how do I Redefine things that are triggers?

Postby ced316 » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:15 pm

I saw my therapist yesterday and we had a long talk about my angry outbursts and violent responses.

When I was a small kid, i was verbally / mentally abused by my parent (as well as physically beat up by her boyfriends which was allowed) , constantly called terms such as 'sissy, punk, 'p*ssy and told im 'acting like a bitch' when I would become upset. She would tell me she wanted me beat up by family members and encouraged the neighborhood kids to attack me. when I expressed how upset that made me, i was punished for 'talking back' and that I deserved it for my attitude.

so through the years growing up if anyone threatened me, or called me any version of the names listed above it would trigger me to blow up and a fight would happen. Overreacting was and is common.

So talking with my therapist she asked me if its a positive that I am able to beat someone up if they call me out of my name, threaten them or best them in some way after the fact. I said yes. It feels safe.

She said I have to redefine the definition of what is a positive response and redefine what is negative. I told her that I didnt really know how to do that, since i had no positive role models growing up - i only had the television and pro wrestlers teaching me that violence solves all problems, with a mom who didnt show any compassion or empathy.

This frame of mind has prevented me from enjoying aspects of my life, because i have associated 'winning' and being 'in a good light' with deserving of love and appreciation. If i fail at something, then i feel it validates all the terrible things my mom would tell me as a kid.

How do i work on this?
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Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:55 pm

Start by not letting your past define you.

There is a BIG difference between acknowledging the past and using the past to justify current behaviors.

Acknowledging the past as the past means that in the past you were called names.

Using the past to say that because you were called names as a child, therefore it causes you to be an angry p@#ck today is hogwash.

Don’t misunderstand. I realize that it is very popular to blame past events for today’s behaviors. But it is BS. It is selective memories and selective causes.

When a child you used to wear diapers, or maybe you didn’t like to eat vegetables, or maybe you were afraid of the dark. But you don’t create BS stories that explain your current ability to use a toilet, eat vegetables, or sleep in the dark. Why? Because you don’t struggle with those behaviors today.

It is only when we struggle with a current behavior that we selectively paint some horrible story to try and justify why it happened. The BS is something like, “I lashed out today, because mom didn’t buy me a toy when I was six years old.”

Again, it is a very common thought process, but not a helpful thought process.

Given the correct current environment people can modify their behaviors fairly quickly if they focus on the present instead of constantly blaming their past. The proof is in all the situations that arise in life that demand modified behaviors, e.g. individuals transformed by military service, or by parenthood, etc.
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Postby ced316 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:37 am

you are correct on a number of levels.

1) interestingly enough you mention military service. I am a veteran with a rating at the va based on trauma. I've also been involved in combat sports and in both areas the behavior and attitudes that I'm looking to work on were not only encouraged but rewarded. It was reinforced to behave a certain way in those environments and I feel now, that it normalized it for a time while I should have had some self control over myself and how I carried myself.

2) there is no excuse for currently acting like a monster. For the first time, someone told me i was a loose cannon and now in this thread you've reestablished that its not a good thing.

I pointed out the child hood stuff because that was what came up when my therapist asked me when was the time i felt defenseless and that was the root of it - but none the less i need to get a grip and behave. I know i can be a hand full when provoked, but i should have alot more self control and patience
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Postby Candid » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:11 am

I'm glad you have a therapist, ced.

The psychologist who diagnosed Complex PTSD in me was a trauma specialist, and I was the only one of her clients who was not ex-military. She told me every one of them had had cruel parenting, as you and I did, and that was the reason they signed up for active duty. It's called repetition compulsion. ... ercome-it/

I don't think you "need to get a grip and behave". That's adding another harsh judgment to all the insults you had to swallow as a boy. Instead I think you need to be kinder and gentler with yourself. You have to be on your own team. ... -yourself/

Happy New Year, my friend.
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Postby ced316 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:35 pm

THANK YOU for this ! I love the articles you share and all of the advice provided in this thread will definitely help me overcome some of my rougher edges

I feel like the more information I have the better off I can be - there is no knowledge that is not power!

Thank you again and happy new year my friend
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