Do you ever wonder if you're running your life or your life is running you? How many times have you found yourself stuck obsessing over something where you felt you had no choice but to be worried and stressed out? How many times did you wish you could "let it go," instead of continuing to obsess? For example... suppose a friend is short with you on the phone and has to go abruptly. This may cause you to worry that she is mad at you about something. Then, for the rest of the week you keep thinking, "What could I have done to offend her? What did I do?" You obsess about it and think about it and spend hours worrying about it. Then, the next time you speak with her, she apologizes to you for being abrupt, but she had a meeting she was late to and needed to get off the phone. She was never mad at your at all.
So what just happened? You wasted many hours being unproductive because your mind was convinced something was wrong. This is what happens when our lives start running us instead of the other way around. All of us worry at times... we all have stress... but it's how we deal with this stress that is the difference between being able to manage our feelings and having them run out of control.
Almost all of us have wounds from childhood that have shaped some of our issues as adults. That's why a small incident can trigger a much larger reaction. Have you ever found yourself overreacting to something and not knowing why? Perhaps your child spills his milk and you react more upset that you realized. Perhaps your husband comes home a little late, yet you become very angry and upset even though he has a logical explanation.
This stuff often happens because we are triggered from events in our past. Perhaps your mother yelled at you when you spilled your milk as a child. Perhaps your first boyfriend cheated on you. Then... the next thing you know, you are reacting very strongly to anything that looks like what happened in the past. These type of reactions are things we all face. However, it's how we deal with them that makes the difference between a life that we "choose," as opposed to a life where we just "react."
I believe the key is recognizing our triggers. Understanding where are reactions come from. In that way, we can separate ourselves from the trigger and by so doing, allow ourselves to not always react in ways that may be harmful to ourselves and our relationships. It's not easy to do -- especially at first -- but the more we can understand our motivations and where they are coming from, the less we will take out our own issues on our friends and family.
David Schwartz, M.S., LMFT
David brings a wealth of life experience to his therapy practice. In addition to his therapy training, David has been a self-motivated entrepreneur for over 20 years, as well as working as a producer in the television industry.
David Schwartz, MS., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist # 87261 -
2239 Townsgate Road, Suite # 107, Westlake Village, CA 91361, and 19634 Ventura Blvd., Suite # 303, Tarzana, CA 91356