Conditioned Response

Conditioned Response

I started dusting a little while ago because I suddenly felt guided to.

As I began moving the decorations on the entertainment center in the living room to dust, one of my cats came bolting out of her favorite adjacent room and ran upstairs.

Why?

Conditioned Response.

She’s not afraid of my dusting. What she is afraid of is the vacuum. Historically, when I dust, the vacuum is soon to follow.

Now I’ve been low on energy for quite a while, and was only planning on dusting as that’s all I had the energy for today. I wasn’t going to vacuum. But, this creature whom I can’t communicate with in words to tell her that, has learned about the environments she lives in and how to predict them by observing them. Humans have words, but we don’t always think to use them to convey to people that we aren’t going to cause them the same harm that someone or something in their past did. And even if we did use them, it may not do any good as people often get triggered.

Familiar things start happening, a person’s conditioned response sets in, and fight or flight takes over.

At this point, even if we use our human words or emotions of love to reassure the person that we can be trusted and that the hurtful events of their past aren’t about to play out again- the triggered person is no longer open to this info. They are in protective mode.

The only thing they want to do at this point is run upstairs to avoid the vacuum, and in the heightened state they are in, they may also give us a piece of their mind on their way up there.

As humans, we have the power to dispel triggers and projections by doing the inner work necessary to help us separate one situation from another. We can discover through careful examination that though the details of the situation may seem strikingly similar to those in the situations where we were hurt previously, we need to take a deeper look into the intentions or emotional state of the person or thing that originally caused us harm. This is where we will find our answers.

We need to ask ourselves˗ are the motivations, true intentions, and overall emotional state of the current person the same as the person who harmed us in the past? It may take some digging and raw honesty, especially if we are still in the triggered state, to find the real answer. If we have done the work and know for certain that the answer is yes after fully processing and separating the initial incidents from this one˗ we may need to do something different or have every reason to want to protect ourselves.

But what happens if when we look as deep as we can go, we realize that the intentions of the current person and situation are not to harm us, and that in fact they won’t harm us (based on our previous history of interactions with that person), but rather that we are blocking intimacy with them because of the giant fearball we have placed between ourselves and any trust we have of them.

We got our cat as a stray. She was friendly but skittish, and we were certain that she had been someone’s indoor pet but had been traumatized in some way before she was probably thrown out or just let go. Because of this, she was distrustful of humans, through at the same time she craved our affection and love. Maybe a vacuum had hurt her in the past, and maybe the person operating it had intended to harm her (most likely as a result of their own inner demons that they couldn’t calm).

If she wants to fully let down her guard and enjoy her life with us, she will need to learn that we do not intend to harm her, and that we will not use an object (especially the one she has been conditioned to be afraid of) to harm her.

She must learn to separate the motives and intentions of the person in the past from the actions, motives, and intentions she has come to expect from us for the last few years in her present.
My question in all of this is here:

Is there somewhere in your life where you are so traumatized by the feelings and objects that were directed your way in a negative energy in the past, that you are not able to trust those who are not trying to hurt you in the present˗ though the details of the situation or object may seem the same?

Maybe it’s time to take a deeper look.

Struggling? It’s a normal part of the process-don’t judge yourself.

Struggling?  It’s a normal part of the process-don’t judge yourself.

Struggle is a completely normal part of life.

Though it is uncomfortable, and there are indeed stresses associated with it, I encourage you to hold yourself gently during this time and resist the urge to judge yourself.  You are trying to break through to the next level, and the path isn’t always linear, but you are showing up and doing what you can, whether or not you fall down.

When the internal chatter starts to show up, and you feel ashamed for whatever you are going through, try to remember that you need your own love most of all, and that there is NO SHAME in being where you are.

Remind and congratulate yourself for all the things that you have done well, and do what you can to find the answers you need.  Meditate (though it’s best to do this daily), journal (extra if you need to), reach out for help, and have a conversation with whatever you believe in that is bigger than you.

Just don’t judge yourself harshly for where you are.

Writing this for myself as much as I am for you.