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Evolutionary Blog

Distinctions to accelerate your personal and professional evolution

Becoming Your Own Guru | What Triggers are and How to Best Relate to Them

triggered

Given all this talk of responsibility and blame, how do we best relate to triggers?  What are they? How do they occur?

Triggers are most often referring to feelings of hurt or anger.  What I mean when I say “trigger” is that you lose the balance of your mind or that you “lose facility with self” in a disproportionate way.

Some people call it “going into red”. Some refer to it as a “trauma response”. Some refer to it as “pissing you off”, or what have you. There can be many names for it, but I think the disproportionate nature of it - where you say things you have to apologize for or simply can’t communicate responsibly - or simply yell or lash out or hurt the other person physically or verbally - is symptomatic of being “triggered”.

We usually speak about them in a relationship as if the other person is somehow to blame for our lack of emotional facility or rationality.  “They triggered me” or “they made me angry” or my personal favorite “you made me worry” we can be heard saying.

Yes. That’s right:  they put a gun to your head and made you fantasize horrible things may have happened to them. When really all that was happening was their cell phone battery died. Or they fell asleep. But they made you worry.

What is the problem with this? 

Not only does this give our power away, but it also makes other people responsible for our feelings, which is simply not the case.

They did not trigger us - it is not their behavior that is the problem:  it is our relationship to what they did that is the problem. Or it is how we interpreted it - what we made up or made it mean - that produced the emotional response in us. We got triggered.  Or it triggered something from our past. More often than not, something that happened triggered off something from our past - or a series of events from our past - hence the disproportionate nature of the trigger. 

We’ve all experienced this in the micro. If your lover keeps leaving dirty underwear on the counter or leaves the empty toilet paper roll on the dispenser without replacing it … and it happens over and over again - you may have a disproportionate response to that and blow up at them about that or about something else. 

This is good news; something from our past that is unresolved or in need of resolution has presented itself.

This is a gift if we relate to it as such.

My partner does not trigger me. I get triggered. Or something from my past was triggered.

If I relate to it like they triggered me AND I wait for them to come in after me and “make it right” I am not only playing a victim, I am making them responsible for my trigger and my happiness. Even worse: they now have all the power over my current emotional state: and I gave it to them by blaming them.

There are also some who use this as a control dynamic/power play; withholding love or connection until you “make it right” when in fact you broke no agreements. But they hold you hostage - or perhaps you have done this yourself to someone to feel special or … extract your pound of flesh.

This is not the exercise of power - it is the use of emotional force. True power comes from developing your facility with self; learning to navigate your interiors - so that you can have ease, flow, and happiness in your life - and a funny thing happens when you do: people enjoy being around you more when you manage your own internal experience - because you are giving them the freedom to be themselves.

They will thank you for being gracious. They will thank you for being understanding. But mostly, they will continue to be more and more self-expressed as you will have clean relating absent of any shame or irresponsibly expressed anger. They won't feel blamed simply for being themselves.

Here is where I give you two new tools - practices really - one for resolving shame, hopelessness and other “emotional atmospheres” as I like to call them, and one for dissolving anger while simultaneously building empathy and compassion.

If you master these simple practices, you will enjoy lasting and increased levels of joy, happiness, and ease, where you used to beat yourself up, get frustrated or angry - or blamed others for things and felt powerless.

You will become equanimous.

This will give you true power, but it is absent of any force.

One of my favorite translations of the word "guru" is "one who is solid in themselves" - so they can not be blown over by external events. I have no interest in being your guru. But I am heavily invested in helping you become your own guru.

These tools will speed you on that path.

Copyright

© Jason D McClain

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Relationship Postmortem | How to Decide When It's Time To Leave

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#RelationshipPostmortem

While most of this section is going to deal with what to do after the breakup - how to process the grief, how to use that period of deep pain for your own development, transformation, and personal evolution, and how to set yourself up for success in the next relationship so you don’t repeat the same mistakes, we’ve all wondered at some point … 

When is it time to leave?

This may be the most difficult question for us to answer for ourselves and there are so many variables - if there are children involved it makes it even more complicated even if the end result is the same.

But one thing we want to be sure of is that we do not stay in the relationship for the wrong reasons.

What are some of the “wrong” reasons?

Let’s start with a few mindsets or orientations to the process before we answer that question. For me personally, these aren’t just mindsets or beliefs, they are convictions; I am willing to assert them as self-evident truths.

First: every human is worthy of a loving and of a fulfilling romantic relationship and/or partnership.  What does fulfilling mean? For me, it means that you're lit up in every way: sexually, lovingly, intellectually, and spiritually. That they are an incredible lover and your best friend. Most important of all:  that you can express yourself - just be you - without being judged or shut down. That you are appreciated, encouraged, loved, and feel a deep connection to this person. That you can communicate through anything.

At the very least, your values need to be aligned enough - and your preferred forms of those values - how they would show up in your relationship need to have enough overlap that the little things don’t matter.

But whatever “fulfilling” means to you, every human is worthy of a loving and of a fulfilling romantic relationship and/or partnership. 

If you are reading this and you are single, you can use the Values and Forms exercise we laid out earlier in the book as a way of determining a greater degree of likelihood for success in your relationship. Values are a far greater determinant of compatibility than any typing system [zodiac, Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc] as your level or stage of ego development will have a far greater influence - for instance at a certain stage you may experience differences as problematic, at yet another stage you may begin to see them as more of a benefit - complementary rather than conflicting - and so on. 

If you are reading this and you are in a relationship, you can use the same exercise to gain an understanding and deeper insight into why you are in conflict and … ultimately … whether you are a functional fit or not.

Second:  while it takes two to tango, it only takes one to transform [the relationship].

This is another fundamental truth. If you alter your internal relationship to the person and behave differently - and come at the whole situation fresh and open to possibility, they will respond to that. It may take longer than you desire - but I firmly believe [and this part may not be true but it is still the powerful way to relate to it]  any relationship can be transformed if one person is lovingly but unwaveringly committed to transforming it. You can infuse new life into it at any point. 

The question is not can it be transformed or not, the question is how.  

Not all relationships should be, but I believe all relationships can be transformed.

Lastly - and this makes a good segue to the “wrong” reasons to stay in a relationship:  

Longevity is not an effective gauge for success. You can be in a relationship that feels dead 20 years and people will congratulate you just based on the amount of time you have been together. Here’s the problem with that:  most humans aren't in a relationship. They're just in a habit.

Having said that, there are a few “wrong” reasons to stay in a relationship:

1. You are afraid to be single or alone. 


If you are afraid to be alone you are very likely in some form of co-dependent relationship and are having to sacrifice your happiness and - at times - your mental or emotional well-being. 

In this case, if you are in a relationship you consider “dysfunctional”, leaving may be the bravest and most powerful and empowering thing you can do - despite (or maybe even because) of how scary it is at first.

2. You don’t think you are good enough to have a more fulfilling relationship.

In my research, I was surprised at how often this came up - that some people didn’t think they were worthy of a more fulfilling relationship - or a higher quality partner.

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Is Your Relationship To God Wrecking Your Relationship With God? (Part 1)

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[Note to the reader: "God" is used throughout as a signifier to point to wherever you put your worship. It could be conventional religions as I will mainly address, but you could just as easily replace it with Gaia if you "put your worship" there--if the environment is your ultimate concern. or you could replace it with polytheistic beliefs such as Hinduism. Or maybe you put your worship in the Universe, Consciousness, or Community. Consider that whatever your ultimate concern is, the concepts in this article can apply to that thing as "God" for you. Doing this will allow you to get the most from this article. -Jason D McClain]

Is Your Relationship to God Wrecking Your Relationship With God?

It’s a provocative question, isn’t it?

Why even ask it? It is fraught with predicable emotional triggers and will produce reactions that may blur the importance and the point of the topic at hand.

We could use your relationship to your "self" or your relationship to others or even your relationship to money. The fact remains that we could use any of those concepts--any of those signifiers--to get to what we are pointing at and we will use a couple of them as lead-in examples because of their familiarity--but it would not be as effective to stop there for our larger conversation; not as effective as getting to the very root of our relationship to and with our deepest and highest stages. But even more to the practical: we will use God for the simple fact that there is no concept or question more galvanizing—making us sit up in our chair and pay attention--than questioning our very relationship to and with the Divine.

So we use “God”.

Before we begin to explore the question, we need to lay the ground on which we will stand: stages of egoic and emotional development. Stages that we interpret the world through and react emotionally from.  Stages through which we will interpret every aspect of our lives--events occurring around us, the actions of others as they relate to us, the world we navigate through politically, economically, romantically, and, yes, our spirituality and the nature of the Divine.

So if we are to examine our relationship to God (or “the Divine) then we must begin with an understanding of the lens we gaze through.

"God is like a mirror. The mirror never changes, but everybody who looks at it sees something different."  --Rabbi Harold Kushner

From pre-personal to personal to trans-personal. From vengeance to justice to grace. From pre-rational to rational to trans-rational. From ego-centric to enthno-centric or gender-centric or nationalistic to world-centric. From unconscious to conscious to super-conscious. These are just some of the ways we can label the grossest stages of development of the Self—and they are stages of increasing wholeness and increasing embrace. Each stage transcends, yet also include the benefits of the former. Each is noted for its increase in capacities and increase in the ability to hold an ever-increasing number of perspectives. We could also think about these stages as an expansion of what an individual can identify with or as. From ego-centric to ethno-centric / gender-centric / nationalistic to world-centric; identifying as just an individual to identifying as a member of a community or collective of individuals to identifying as a member of a global community—a citizen of the planet and a member of its ecosystem. Plainly put: our stage of self-development will determine our world-view—and that world-view will evolve over time. And that evolution will have a directionality.

Human development can be divided into three major phases: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional, or pre-personal, personal and transpersonal (Wilber, et.al., 1986). This applies to the development of cognition, morality, faith, motivation and the selfsense. The infant enters the world unsocialized, at a pre-conventional stage, and is gradually acculturated into a conventional world-view, whether it be religious or secular. A few individuals develop further into post-conventional stages of post-formal operational cognition (Pfaffenberger, et.al., 2009), post-conventional morality (Sinnott, 1994;), universalizing faith (Fowler, 1995), self-actualizing and self-transcending motives (Maslow, 1971), and a transpersonal self-sense (Cook-Greuter, 1994; Wilber, 1980, 1983, 20001).

-Frances Vaughn, Journal of Transpersonal Research, 2010

We could say that one of the primary practices (as well as one of the primary indicators of personal evolution) is the ability to take on an ever-increasing number of perspectives; the ability to understand—even if not agreeing with—an ever-increasing number of perspectives or “views” of or “from” a given place.

And that lens—or lenses—is the filter through which we view the world as well as being the platform we will likely react from. This is not a box we can put ourselves or others in. It is not a classification as rigid as a “type”. Think of it more as a probability: a weather forecast, or a general orientation within high odds. Think of it more as a lump or a wave. But even still, the fact that we will likely interpret through and react from our “stage” of development of the “self” is hard-wired as a probability can get.

And, the endeavor we call “personal evolution” is the process of activating movement and moving through those stages.

Why is this important?

In the process of personal evolution we have both the mechanisms to create, and the path to enjoy, true peace within--and to reduce conflict without. An ever-expanding ability to hold an ever-increasing number of perspectives leads to a life that experiences greater ease, reduced fear and reduced anger, greater empathetic capacities, increased self-acceptance, increased capacities to handle whatever life may throw at you—and respond more resourcefully, and ultimately, leads to an aligned, purpose-filled and full-filled life.

As within, so without.

In recent history, it has become commonplace in personal development circles and communities for us to realize that our relationship to ourselves is very important—it is an accepted fact that it will determine a great deal of our experience materially, inter-personally, and emotionally. It may be thought of as self-concept, or self-esteem and self-acceptance, self-care, and self-love. This shows up in particularly high-relief/ particularly sharp in contrast in work with relationships where it is clear to more and more people (whether we like it or not) that our relationship with our self will determine our relationship dynamics with others: how well do we honor boundaries both for ourselves and for others? Do we feel we deserve to be happy and deserve to have a relationship in which we are treated well—with kindness and respect and love? How easily and openly do we communicate?

In essense: the degree of health we enjoy in our relationship with ourselves (and to our “self”) will have a great deal of influence on the degree of heath an vitality we enjoy in relationships with others—and life in general.

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The Necessary Spiritual Awakening of the Evolutionary Gentleman

There (hopefully) comes a point in every human’s life when they have a post-conventional sexual unfolding. When they long for depth and settle for nothing less than a full body-mind-spirit connection with our lovers. This is, of course, even more true for an Evolutionary Gentleman. It is a necessary aspect of how he relates to himself, women, and intimate sexual connection.
 
What do I mean by a “post-conventional sexual unfolding”?
 
As always, a brief summary of developmental stage conceptions is useful here. As we evolve through stages - unfold more of our depths - we experience ourselves and the world in different ways; we react from and interpret through certain perspectives.
 
From pre-personal to personal to trans-personal. From egocentric to ethno/natio-centric to world-centric. From rigid to flexible to fluid. From being emotionally stuck to having emotional choice to being emotionally free. From vengeance to justice to grace. Stages of increased wholeness, stages of increasing inclusivity, stages of increased facility and personal freedom.
 
How we relate to sex and intimacy is no different.
 
From subject-object sex to transactional sex to deeply spiritual and intimate union. It’s important to note that we all start where we all start and we can not skip over stages. To do so would be the worst kind of bypass. We must explore the stage fully, satisfy our hunger there, navigate it for long enough until we realize its inherent limitations and lack of depth before we embrace the deeper level - transcending yet including the benefits of the stage while shedding the drawbacks.
 
In hetero-normative romantic relationships, it moves from us vs them (men’s “team” and women’s “team”) to man-woman partnership to masculine-feminine divine union.
 
My own awakening came 25 years ago. There was a time in my life where I was very fortunate to have been able to have a long period of extended discerning promiscuity. I had a new lover about every 10 days for about a year - and none of them were one-night stands. They usually lasted at least a weekend or a few weeks. I was doing it openly and ethically even then - I would let the woman know before we had any intimate contact what I was available for and what I was not so I was being responsible with them and making sure no one felt led on or misled. I can tell you that on more than one occasion that conversation - which I considered an emotional consent conversation - was too intense for some and many wondered why we were even talking about it, but none chose to opt-out as a result.
 
Truth, openness, transparency, and giving others choice has always been something that I value, and I will never regret that. BUT … my point is, I had a high volume of lovers through my bed during this period.
 
It took me less than a year to realize the spiritual bankruptcy of this. Feel its emptiness. Its lack of meaning and connection. Its lack of depth and intimacy.
 
And I still remember the exact moment.
 
It was 3 or 4 am, and I was sitting on my bathroom floor with these two lovely brunettes, and for the last few hours I had done everything a man could want to do with two women - and I looked at them both with their heads in my lap - and at that moment ... I was bored.
I felt the ache of the lack of love - even if I deeply appreciated them and was fond of them.
 
That’s when I knew this phase had run its course and I was done with that kind of sexual shenanigans.
 
I encourage every man (and woman for that matter) to have these experiences until they are full - until they are satiated and feel into the emptiness. It is not something you can skip over and still have healthy personal spiritual evolution.
 
For men, this can show up as denying their desires and the pseudo-spirituality that shows up as being cut off from the diaphragm down. Or - say - having an aversion to the words c*ck and/or p*ssy (maybe they don’t call them “dirty” but they still judge them as “bad because they are [supposedly] not spiritual”. PSSST: it is “transcend and include” not transcend and deny or suppress or transcend by bypassing. Transcend and include. You don’t stop having fun, uninhibited sex, you just have more range with the kind of sex you have and you are more discerning with who you have it with.
 
For men, this can even have a positive effect on premature ejaculation and/or erectile dysfunction. At least some of which is psychological, and for the former, the “oh my gosh, I am actually having sex!” excitement can lead to the unpredictable timing of his issue spewing forth.
 
But, having moved through these stages, and with the full integration of your body - mechanical, physical, technique, touch - and your mind - connection, values, cognitive compatibility, communication - to spiritual - bring all the previous forward but adding depth, presence, openness, and unfettered intimacy - he may find that he is not even fully erect the first, second, or even third time they make love. But his turnon and excitement for his love and his lover grow more intensely over time, increase with their connection and emotional intimacy and grow as they engage as spiritual beings on every plane.
 
In my experience, it is important to recognize each step, stage, wave, and ring of depth as important - and to experience each of them fully - not denying or suppressing them or aspects of them (that just leads to a splintered, disowned self and creates shadow along the way) to accept and embrace each one fully, appreciating the process, and loving the very self even while you are in an infinite unfolding.
 
This is the path of any Evolutionary.
 
And in this context, it is - most certainly - part of the path of the Evolutionary Gentleman.

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The Problem With [Most] Male Polarity Coaches [Part 3]

Part 2 of The Problem With Most Male Polarity Coaches is back »HERE«.

Part 3 is below.

Yet another one of the things I have noticed is the male echo chamber in these groups and with polarity coaches: rather than teaching men how to be more effective with women which would require discovering what kind of experience they want to have and then providing that - from a place of an authentic desire and deep appreciation of the feminine - they teach men things - from strategies to mindsets - that simply have them garner approval from other men.
 
And often, there is a thinly veiled resentment or outright misogynistic flavor to it.
 
I understand some of it: they are wounded in a way. And perhaps still not over the last woman or series of women. Or maybe they have yet to evolve beyond the subject-object level of sex and relating. Still others are afraid to lose their center around an extraordinary woman and feel if they open to her and provide the experience she desires he’ll lose himself or become emasculated in some way.
 
I have to wonder if this kind of man ever had his masculine core well-established to begin with.
If you are clear who you are and what your boundaries are, and you honor them, resentment never occurs - the structure of resentment is crossing your own boundaries repetitively - extending yourself beyond your range - or allowing someone to cross them continually without saying anything or expressing those boundaries and then blaming the other person for it.
 
It’s a kind of co-dependent behavior mixed with a victim/blame orientation.
 
There’s no power there.
 
It tells me that these men are still acting from their wounds - around mother or lovers or ex-wives - and/or have distortions around relating in general and perhaps fear true intimacy. There is a certain surrender in true and full intimacy - a letting go - that requires a solid - and simultaneously fluid - core. So one can fully let go into full abandon and love - and still find your way back.
 
So there is a way in which all those fears are bundled together and serve as a kind of false masculinity.
 
Everyone is on their own path and at their own stage of development in every context, and this is no different. But there is a place one can arrive at beyond the fear, free from convention, a place where intimacy is no longer avoided or fear, but is simply a place of authenticity where two souls meet - and if you visit that place often enough you will find that full authenticity and full intimacy in every way - mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual is the place of fulfillment.
 
But first, you have to know who you are, and have full acceptance around who you are, your desires, be fully comfortable being alone … and have a deep appreciation for the other - for the feminine - but also be so solid in yourself that you don’t fear full, wild, abandon.
 
You no longer fear … love.

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