- difficult to guide, manage, or work with
- marked by trouble or unhappiness; not favorable
When was the last time you experienced an untoward urge?
An urge that was so strong that you had difficulty guiding or managing it? An urge that you knew, if followed, would likely lead to unhappiness and/or trouble?
The last time I experienced an untoward urge was…. um, this morning.
You see, my boyfriend got out of bed this morning upset. At me? I didn’t know. All I knew was that he was loud, terse, and unwilling to engage.
Which triggered all these fears, anxieties, and insecurities in me.
Which, in turn, lead to untoward urges.
The urge to know. And, the urge to fix.
How does following these urges look? Well, it looks like me pestering him with questions, asking what’s up, trying to get him to engage.
Which, understandably (since most of the time he’s just needing some alone time to work through things), leads to him getting upset with me for real and demanding to be left alone.
Which then triggers more fears and insecurities in me followed by even more intense urges to know and fix.
And, well, needless to say…. downward spiral.
So, let’s take a closer look.
I feel very uncomfortable when people (especially people I love) are upset or mad at me. People just being mad while in close proximity to me is also quite disconcerting – at least until I am clear that the anger isn’t directed at me personally.
The trigger: My boyfriend being upset.
Here’s what happens in me:
Mental: The not knowing. It is me? Is it not me? What did I do? What didn’t I do? What’s going on? Why won’t he engage? Oh, the discomfort!
Emotional: Anxiety, fear, insecurity.
Physical Sensations: pressure building in chest, clenching and gripping in my stomach, tightness in throat.
The Urge: the overwhelming desire to find out what is going on and to fix it if possible.
Why? So that I feel better.
And, that’s the crux!
I love my boyfriend. I totally want him to be happy and at ease in himself and his life. And, if he’s having a bad day, I want to engage with him and to support him in that in any way that I can.
BUT (and this is a really big but), when I am triggered, that’s not where my true motivation lies.
Instead, I’m trying to get him to engage in order to:
- figure out if my discomfort and insecurities are justified (did I do something ‘wrong’) and to
- dissipate my own feelings of discomfort.
When triggered, my motives for wanting to engage are mostly for my own benefit.
Which, of course, most often leads to less than desirable outcomes.
How to differentiate between untoward urges and the basic human need to support and connect with those we love.
This differentiation comes through noticing what is happening in our own bodies.
Here’s the thing: When triggered, these urges arise out of tension.
When we genuinely want to support the other person, our bodies feel relaxed and open. Therefore, we are more likely to be able to meet them in ways that will actually help and support them.
So, ask yourself: what is happening in my body on the level of Sensation?
Are these urges arising out tension or relaxation?
Being triggered = Tunnel Vision
When we are triggered, we get instantly pulled into the discomfort and the wanting to fix. In short, we go into immediate tunnel vision. And, generally, we lose all sense of what is happening in our bodies.
For me, the easiest and quickest way to check in and find out whether my urge is arising from tension or relaxation is to go in to my Owl Eyes.
Shifting into Owl Eyes (wide angle vision) instantly shifts my perspective out of tunnel vision and into an expanded perspective. I am able to take a more objective view of the situation and the world around me.
And, somehow, miraculously, it allows me *feel* what is happening within me.
In Owl Eyes, it becomes easier to notice whether the sensations in my body are those of tension or of relaxation. If my body is filled with tension and discomfort, BINGO! It’s very likely I want to help in order to ease my own discomfort.
So, back to this morning – I *did* use my Owl Eyes.
In Owl Eyes it was immediately obvious that tension was radiating through my body and that my desire to engage with him was to make myself feel better.
This time I was able to not follow the urge; I was (mostly) able to just allow him to be where he was.
Instead, I simply sat with myself and noticed all the emotions and sensations that were there; that were mine. Mine to spend time with; mine to honor and acknowledge. Not his… Mine.
And that, I believe, is what SELF-care is all about.
Noticing the things that trigger us, learning how to meet ourselves when triggered, how to hold ourselves, how to (tentatively, perhaps) offer ourselves love and compassion.
The next time you feel an urge, whether it is to fix, to know, to help, to eat chocolate!, whatever your urge may be:
- Go into your Owl Eyes.
- Notice the sensations in your body. Overall, is there a sense of tension or of relaxation?
- If you notice a lot of tension, see if you can acknowledge the discomfort and give yourself some attention and compassion – however that may look or feel for you…. first.
- Then, if there is another person involved, offer what genuine support and help you can.
How does this approach land with you? What are some of your untoward urges? And, what tools do you use to meet yourself when you are triggered?