I’m going to ask you to do something that is nearly impossible: Set aside the horrific, murderous actions that Jodi Arias did to her ex-boyfriend and focus on the simple essence of what caused her to act in such terrible ways.
When you strip everything away, what you have is simply a person who’s been triggered by a relationship. Yes, I admit that’s a bit simplistic, but in essence, that’s what happened.
Of course, I am in no way condoning her actions. She should be locked up forever. But if we can see through the spectacular, Jodi can teach us something about the familiar.
Jodi was a girl who was hurt and mad at her ex-lover. And haven’t you been there—triggered by a relationship? Perhaps you found your husband cheating or you notice a bunch of signs your husband is cheating (or your wife). Can’t you, in some small way, relate to her hurt and rage?
The reality is, to one degree or another, we’re all Jodi Arias. We’ve all been triggered by a relationship. Whether it’s being cheated on, lied to, manipulated, ignored, abandoned or rejected, we’ve all experienced relationship drama and chaos. And we all have experienced how that pain and rage can make us say and do some pretty crazy things—the difference being only one of degree.
Arias completely lost it—stabbing him repeatedly, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head. It might be the understatement of the century to say she was triggered, but in essence, isn’t that what it was? And when we see it like this, we can relate. At least I can.
I got in a huge fight at a resort in the Caribbean with a former girlfriend named “Pam,” (not her real name) where she hauled off and slapped me a couple of time so hard I saw stars. I was so afraid of her that I slept outside by the pool that night because I thought that she might bash my head in with a golf club when I fell asleep!
Since writing about that in my book, A Drink with Legs, dozens and dozens of people have opened up to me about their stories of drama, hurt and rage. It’s not that uncommon. Yes, few people actually kill, but we scream, hit, rage, throw things, say things and generally lose it when we’re triggered in a relationship.
The reason Carrie Underwood’s biggest hit is Before He Cheats, is because people can relate to being triggered by a relationship. Read the words and tell me if she isn’t channeling Jodi Arias:
Right now he’s probably slow dancing with a bleached-blond tramp,
and she’s probably getting frisky…
right now, he’s probably buying her some fruity little drink
’cause she can’t shoot whiskey…
Right now, he’s probably up behind her with a pool stick,
showing her how to shoot a combo…
And he don’t know…
That I dug my key into the side
of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seats…
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,
slashed a hole in all 4 tires…
Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.
I’d say “Carrie” was triggered, wouldn’t you? Just like Pam in the Caribbean. Just like Jodi in Arizona. The only difference is one of degree. But in essence, all three examples are the same—someone is triggered by a relationship and some degree of insanity results.
Seems to me that we should talk about this dynamic of being triggered because while we may not go off the deep end like Jodi did, we all get triggered and we all say and do some pretty insane things when it happens. So, what’s happening inside us when we get triggered in a relationship?
Now, the answer does not fall in the realm of dating advice, dating tips, relationship advice for men or women. It’s not about writing a better on line profile, be successful at on line dating or discovering signs your husband is cheating (or your wife either). It’s about any of that.
Triggering happens when a “core story of deficiency” is activated. In other words, a button is pushed and that button is some deep, core belief we have about ourselves, some story we carry about being inadequate, flawed or deficient in some way.
Eckhart Tolle, a famous spiritual teacher, calls this the “pain body.” That’s a synonym for a “core story of deficiency.” Both refer to a deep wound, a story we carry about ourselves, usually stemming from our childhoods, that lays dormant until something triggers or activates it.
Our core story of deficiency is just like a vending machine that just sits there until someone comes along and pushes a button. When that happens, something gets spewed out. Or it’s like a snake in the grass, coiled up just sitting there, until something gets close to it, and then it strikes.
Now, what makes it spew or strike? What, specifically, activates the dormant “pain body?” What triggers a “core story of deficiency?”
It sees itself.
We get triggered when we see our core story of deficiency reflected in the eyes, words or actions of another. Like a dog barking at it’s own reflection, so our core story of deficiency “barks” when it sees itself reflected in relationship.
Jodi, “Carrie,” Pam, you and me—all of us get triggered, and do some insane things, when our core story is reflected back to us in relationship.
Each of those three ladies had men that rejected them. We didn’t want them. We didn’t love them. And they went crazy because each of them carried a very old deficiency story, something that might be described as “the one who’s unlovable,” or the “one who’s unwanted.”
Something from their past convinced them that they weren’t lovable or wanted (maybe their father abandoned them or maybe he was an alcoholic) and when that story sees itself in the actions of their boyfriends, when it’s mirrored back in relationship—boom!
If those women did not carry the story of being unlovable or unwanted into their relationships, then when their men ended their relationship, they may have felt authentic sadness and grief, but they wouldn’t have been triggered into any degree of insanity, violent or otherwise.
They would have been sad, yes—of course, but they wouldn’t see it as meaning anything about them. It wouldn’t mean that they were unlovable or unwanted. It would only mean he wants to move on. That’s it. In reality, it’s not personal. It’s just what he feels is right for him. It’s his choice, his feeling, his opinion.
But if it feels personal, if you’re triggered—meaning you want to bark, spew or strike—that’s only because someone’s words and actions are mirroring a core story of deficiency that you have of yourself. Without that story, there’s no trigger. Yes, sadness and grief, maybe profound sadness and grief, but it’s not personal, and therefore, there’s no trigger.
This can be hard to understand so let me give you an extreme example. If I call you a green frog, it wouldn’t trigger you. Why? Because you don’t carry a core story of being Kermit! What I’m reflecting to you, by my words in this case, doesn’t set you off because you don’t hold that belief about yourself. That’s so obvious it’s silly.
But if I say or act in a way that indicates you’re powerless, unlovable, a loser or invisible—the only reason you become triggered is because you hold that story about yourself.
However, if I don’t have a core story of being unlovable, when you say or do something to that effect, I hear it just like I’d hear “you’re a green frog.” I’d have no reaction because I don’t see myself as a green frog and I don’t see myself as unlovable. I’d simply say or think, “Ok. You think I’m unlovable. Fine. Whatever.” And I’d go on my way with absolutely no residue.
But if I’m triggered—if I get defensive, hurt and angry and bark, spew or strike—it only means I agree with you! On some level, my core story is seeing itself and it’s reacting.
If there is such a thing as personal growth it’s this: Identifying my core story of deficiency, owning it as my baggage, putting my full attention on dissolving it and then thanking the person who the universe has used to show us who we have falsely believed ourselves to be.
Now, the last part of that last paragraph may freak you out, but I want you to focus on how to put your full attention on dissolving your core story of deficiency. If you do that, the rest of it will begin to make sense.
There’s an amazing tool we can use to dissolve our core stories when they’re triggered in relationship. Instead of killing someone, trashing their car, slapping their face or doing whatever crazy stuff we do when our buttons are pushed, we can turn to The Living Inquiries for freedom in those moments.
The Living Inquiries have been developed by spiritual teacher, Scott Kiloby. I have been personally trained by Scott to facilitate others in using this tool to find freedom from their core stories and since I’ve already written extensively on The Living Inquiries (on my website), I’ll simply give you this link to learn more: http://coachingwithroy.com/living-inquiries/
I’ve also created an entire e-course on the membership side of my website. The e-course shows how The Living Inquiries can radically impact your life. It’s called, The Life You’re Meant to Live: Finding Personal, Professional, Physical and Psychological Freedom through The Living Inquiries.” By mid June, 2013, that e-course will be available, along with a free video about the e-course.
Finally, I will close with this: If you want healthy, lasting relationships, if you want to live the life you’re meant to live, make it your number one priority to find, face and free yourself from your core story of deficiency.
You and I can live life without being triggered. We do not have to manifest our version of Jodi Arias, “Carrie,” or Pam. We can be open, loving and free. The Living Inquiries is the best tool I know of to create that kind of life.