What do you do when you are triggered by a person or an event and you “go reactive?”

The situation could be a difficult discussion with someone at work; an argument with a spouse, significant other or child; an unexpected traffic jam.  Life is full of opportunities to be triggered into reactivity and, hence, the Victim Orientation.

Typically the reaction is to fall into the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ and assume one or more of the roles of Victim, Persecutor or Rescuer.

It happens to all of us.  In fact, the two of us have had a couple of incidents in the past few weeks that were Challengers to our commitment to live and work as sustainably as possible from a Creator Orientation.

So what to do when triggered?

Photo courtesy of col&tasha (Creative Commons)
Photo courtesy of col&tasha (Creative Commons)

The key is to “go to the balcony,” as Harvard’s William Ury refers to it.  In his 2010 TED Talk, he describes the balcony as “a metaphor for a place of perspective where we can keep our eyes on the prize.”

In terms of TED* (The Empowerment Dynamic)™, the “prize” is making the shift to the Creator Orientation and the TED* roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach.

From that balcony, we are able to step back (or up) from our reactivity and ask whatever the essential question is that will enable us to make the shift happen.  When we can “observe” ourselves having the reactivity it allows us to be less attached to our drama-filled behaviors.

If we observe ourselves in the Victim role, we ask “what do I want in this situation?” in order to shift into the Creator frame of reference.  If our tendency, when triggered, is to become the Persecutor, we ask “what is my intention and what is there to be learned?” which shifts us into the role of Challenger.  If our reactive response is to “fix” the person or situation as a Rescuer, we pause and discern “what questions can I ask and how can I be of support in ways that leave the other as capable and responsible for responding to the situation?” This shifts us into the role of Coach.

Going up to the balcony allows us to observe with a little less reactive emotion (drama) and call “time out!”    By doing so, we can rise above the situation by viewing it from a larger perspective and increase our capacity to choose more resourceful and empowered TED* roles and responses.

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