Author of: 12 Tools To Keep Your Cool and Confidence-Trigger-Proof
Tina was blond haired, blue eyed, slender woman in her thirties and worked for the US Postal Service, just like her mother and her father. She was not as fortunate as her parents though because the stress in her job was much greater than in years past. Not only the “going postal” workplace stressors but Tina had the audacity (or some might say the guts) to leave her highly dysfunctional relationship with her husband with two kids hoping for a better future for them all.
Tina realized that one of the tragedies of our time is the all too common phenomenon of family strife and broken families. She also came from a generation where her own parents did not take time to communicate with her or with one another. They modeled a kind of stoic and long suffering partnership. They just stuck it out no matter the relationship had already died a slow death years ago. In her family there was an undercurrent of emotional pain and struggle consistently running beneath the surface. The silence between family members felt more like a silent scream experienced in a nightmare where you want to let go but nothing comes out. Mouths open, but no sound emitting, just the hollow pain of disconnection from self and others.
Tina was an optimist, despite the divorce, and her own family dysfunction, she decided to take time to repair the emotional damage from her past and prepare herself for a better relationship with her kids now 8 and 12 years old. Now, more than ever, they needed her as they approached their teen years, she hoped it was not too late.
She went to a training trying to first learn about emotional triggers. Sometimes there was tension between her and the kids. Eventually it ended up with somebody pushing some one’s buttons and getting the emotional triggers going in everyone. She wanted to learn about pushing each other’s buttons. One of the things she learned about triggers is everyone has them, they are just not aware of them, until it is too late.
Tina also learned she had to work on her own emotional triggers before she could start pointing out the triggers in others. Tina laughed to herself, it was easier to see the emotional triggers in others, and not so easy to see them in herself. She learned in the training one of her triggers was work related. She had been working too much and playing too little. She was using it as a type of escape.
Tina realized she had kept saying this would change, but she was finding herself more isolated and less social. Now she could see where her 12 year old son was getting this behavior, ouch! They were both spending more time with their computers than with people. She began by staying off the computer and taking more time to check-in with the kids. She also brought all the computers in the family room so that she was with them while they were on-line.
Each night 30 minutes before bedtime there were no more electronics. At first the kids protested but she softened the blow with some homemade snacks and asked them to give her a chance to re-connect with them. Tina confessed she had missed them with all the stress of the divorce. She also spoke to them about her own struggle in a “kid friendly” way so they could hear her without putting the emotional baggage or guilt trip on them.
Tina told them about discovering her own emotional triggers. She confessed she had been isolating too much on her own computer, her son looked at her with shock, holding back tears, and confessed he was doing the same thing. They laughed at the confessions and with some relief began the slow process of healing themselves before it was too late. Tina found a great family counselor and instead of pushing each other’s buttons they all began focusing on common interests instead of differences, and working on listening to one another more effectively.