Why Your Partner’s Seemingly Insignificant Actions May Trigger You

by Conscious Reminder

Suppose you spent time searching for something helpful for your partner. But then they say that they haven’t even looked at it.

Often, we will feel heat flash in our stomach, alerting us about our frustration. But instead of submitting to it and lashing out, it would be more beneficial to pause and calmly explain the feeling.

Small Things Have The Power To Make Us React In A Huge Way

This sensation of heat was a side-effect of our nervous system getting activated. Arousal or activation are terms that describe the psychological and physiological state when a point being perceived stimulates the sensory organs. You can think of it like our amygdala watching out for danger, and then preparing to protect our system from it.

This radar system for danger is a biological and evolutionary response that is designed to protect us from experiences that were dangerous previously. When it comes to partnerships, our present “danger” experience often has a relation to wounding and hurtful past experiences.

This reflexive reaction is the nervous system acting out a reaction it had adapted to our first caregivers during childhood – the ones who could not consistently practice attunement and failed to provide our bodies co-regulated safety.

Consequently, the majority of our partnerships that are intimate will be triggering some type of activation of danger within us. When a “rupture” – a kind of intrusions or movement abandoning us and away or toward our relational and somatic boundary – is detected by our system, our systems will reflexively respond by alerting us.

Learning how to feel your bodily sensations is the foundation in many therapies that are of the “bottom-up” form, like EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Hakomi, etc. The more we can sense within our bodies, and track our physiological reactions’ patterns, the more we will get to know about our bodies’ historical programming.

Our neurophysiology gets formed during our earliest relations and biological coordination involving our caregivers. All our states of living, present, and past, are living within our bodies.

Individuals who had more traumatic experiences are more likely to have more past situations embedded in their physiological systems. But all of us have some kind of trauma when it comes to relationships. This means that there are always invisible roots from the past that present partnerships will trigger.

 Uncovering The Invisible Investments

Going back to the example, the frustration was an alert about an “invisible investment” – a deep root behind a seemingly superficial relationship issue. The reactive response is an alert regarding a historical pattern in our nervous system – that we get triggered when a relational effort is unnoticed.

The roots of this can lie in childhood instances when we made something for our parents but it was ignored. As a result, it may have made us feel like our efforts to establish connections were passed over. This is the wound’s invisible layer. After connecting with it, and understanding it, we can mature more and feel whole – thus establishing a better connection with our partner.

Talking to our partners about the reaction and roots can be beneficial for them as well. It will let them know that our reactions in the present can have a reason in the past, as such making them feel less defensive and safer.

Finally, such investments do not always have a reaction that is negative. It can be positive as well, such as enjoying the silly and playful antics of our partner because it reminds us of when we had a similar parental connection that made us feel safe and fun.

In Conclusion

There is no “small stuff” when it comes to emotions in serious relationships, and they should be thought about. In fact, approaching little things as if they have deep roots will deepen our intimacy with our partners and ourselves.

Learning to hear our emotional experiences and being conscious of how we convey them is most important.

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