Triggered: A Guide to Triggers, Fucking Off, and Being a Decent Human Being

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Ok boys and girls…  I had a thought go through my mind today.  I was in line at a store and two people were telling a story.  One stopped her story telling and said to the other, seriously mind you, “trigger warning” and then asked for permission to finish the story.

This made me think.  What exactly is a trigger warning?  When did this become necessary? What does one do when triggered?

A trigger something that one experiences that causes the person to relive emotions they normally would not want to have.  The common example if you look into it is the raped woman who hears a song that was playing during the attack or the soldier who returns from war and hears fireworks that remind him of gunfire.

Ok, every got the rough definition we are working with.

That being said, two things…

  • You really need to be 100% certain that the experience you are being triggered back to is on par with these two as a baseline. Otherwise I am going to tell you to fuck right the hell off.  Here is a helpful guide to fucking off:
    1. An event that is not inherently evil. This includes the natural death of a parent or pet.  Anything that was not maliciously done to you is just called life and is part of the human condition.  Society owes you nothing; you are responsible for your mental health.
    2. An event that causes no lasting harm. An example of this is being lost in a store when you are a kid or falling when learning how to ride a bike.  Suck it up buttercup!
    3. Something you did to yourself. If you are a recovering junkie or former anorexic the world around you does not need to hide its candy or images of drugs.  Part of your recovery is managing yourself in a tempting world.  If your recovery is fragile then you cannot go to places that tempt you.  These places don’t need to accommodate you.
  • You are still 100% responsible for your actions when triggered. The interwebs are rife with video after video of college asshole losing their mind when “triggered” like that is a get out of jail (or at least being called and asshole) free card.  If rape victims can resist the urge to start stabbing the nearest thing with a penis when triggered then you can handle a class presenting a different opinion than the one you came in with.  You are not excused from:
    1. Getting violent or destructive
    2. Yelling or being disrespectful (even if the trigger is yelling or being disrespectful)
    3. Demanding the world change for you

 

So, when did this become a thing?  Its cliche now but…  100 years ago this was not a thing.  Is this part of the progress of the last few decades?

More likely, people are just taking advantage of a weakened system.  People are like virus sometimes.  The system is weakened, people want and are driven to be seen as more sensitive and understanding.  So people with their ridiculous sense of entitlement rush to system to get theirs.

People no longer see value in being able to handle things and develop coping skills or perspective.  Why should I have to develop an emotional callus?  The world needs to move and change for me.

Let me set this straight.

No.  You are not.  The world does not need to and most of the time doesn’t want to move for you.  We reserve the small shreds of compassion for those truly needing it (see above) not people with hurt feelings.

In high school, I had to watch Schindler’s List.  In college I had learn about the stories and art of Elie Wiesel and the holocaust.  I saw things that bother me to this day.  However, I needed to learn how to see something that bothers me so that I know what that feels like.  I needed to know that I was looking at evil and feel it in my gut.

I think a lot of people don’t know how to tell good and evil apart because they don’t see things that “trigger” them and learn how to deal with it.  It’s like heavy lifting for your mind and emotions.  This is how people can celebrate Che Guevara and Fidel Castro even though these people are mass murders.  (Fact, regardless of the reasons these two are murders).  You need to face these kind of things and not hide behind society’s willingness to coddle you.

Certain parts of society have a vested interest in keeping you unable to tell good from evil as well.

At this point I am sure that someone of you are asking yourselves, “But what if I want to be a good person and help someone who is (hopefully rightly so) triggered?  Good question.  I am not a shrink or counselor but I get people so here is my helpful hints.

  • Give them space. Physically back off.  Unless then want you near them for comfort or security, double arm length is best.
  • Let them be in control. Ask them if they want some water.  If you are going to sit near them ask them for permission first.  Ask them if they want to leave, don’t tell them “hey lets go” let them decide.
  • Change the subject. Talking about cooking, tell a joke, be self-deprecating.  Involve a puppy if you can.

 

Hopefully this helps you go and be a better person.

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I’m offended! Now What?

What does it mean to be offended?

 

There is a lot of talk going around right now about things, people, ideas, dogs, cats, and gorillas (not me the other guy…RIP Harambe) that are offensive.  Some will say you don’t have the right to be offended and suck it up buttercup!  Others will say that constant offense is akin to harassment and harassment is akin to harm.

I am not here to settle that debate.  What I want to know is what does it mean to be offended or offensive?

Let’s start at the basics.

 

I think the definition says a lot…

 

Of·fen·sive

adjective

1.

causing someone to feel deeply hurt, upset, or angry.

 

2.

actively aggressive; attacking.

 

That sums it up right there.  Hurting someone’s feelings or attacking them.

There is a world of debate between those two definitions.

First we need to recognize that there two definitions and that they are equally valid.

What we as rational people need to do is to be able to determine which one an act is.

If you feelings are hurt you need a hug, a kick in the ass, or a solid look in the mirror.  You do not need a law, a safe space, someone to get fired, or a media frenzy.

If you are attacked you need help, you need to be heard, or you need things to change.  You do not need to be marginalized, forgotten, told you are overreacting, or made to feel bad for being the victim.

 

You need to be honest with yourself and figure out which you’ve experienced.

 

Realize that if you react wrong you are harming others.

If you are attacked/offended and brush it off you are letting someone get away with it and they will do it again to someone else and you are going to have to bear that.

If you have your feelings hurt and lose your mind and start acting hysterical you harden your listening audience to the needs of those truly attacked.  If you don’t shake it off, suck it up, and move on you can become an obstacle to those that have been truly attacked.

 

You need to decide for yourself.

Don’t Waste Gas… Get a Car!

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It seems right now everyone is angry.  I mean literally every single person you come across.  A lot of people, myself included will tell you that is nothing new.  I am a “nothing under the sun is new” kind of guy.  Political strife?  Nothing new; not in American history and certainly not in Ancient particularly Roman history.  Hell…  Is a new president going to take office and kill his political adversaries?  I mean straight up murder them?

If you really think that then you are not being rational… you are being hysterical and you should stop reading right now.  I can only work with rational people.  I’ll wait while you find some Youtube video to watch that finally explain everything to you but in a way that you’ve always known is true (Read: Echo Chamber).

Ok, now that they are gone…  Seriously just google “Death of Cicero” if you think things have never been this bad.  I’ll even help you out…

The Death of Cicero

Ok so what is unique about this day and age?

  • You are going through it. We are going through it.  It may be nothing compared to ancient times, or even the American Civil War (not the one with Cap and Iron Man… sigh public education…)  BUT it’s your time to go through unrest so it seems like so much more to handle.  It seems overwhelming.
  • This generation, in this country and around the modern world, is the most emotionally weak and lacks coping skills. Seriously… people are losing their minds over the worst things that could happen right now (again the rational things to fear, not the “He’s the ANTI-CHRIST!  The seventh seal is opening!  Death comes for us all!” stuff).  Why?  Its cliché but we are a microwave… Uber…  Xbox world.  If every iPhone in the world slipped into another dimension tomorrow and never came back this generation would say it’s worse than the Black Death.  So anyone comes along and says you may lose a little people freak right the hell out.

So what does have to do with anger?

People are angry, incapable of dealing with it, and losing their minds on Facebook.  Let’s unpack this.

Group A is angry.  Group A does something about it.  They elect someone, they get a law changed, hell they get a speed bump installed.  Whatever, doesn’t matter… they change something.

Group B is angry now.  They didn’t want that change.  So, they get angry and repeat the process.

The problem is that each group feels their anger is justified and the other’s group is based on

-Stupidity

-Innate Irrational Hate

-Fear

-Selfishness

Each group sees themselves as the great hero of the story moving us forward, restoring us, improving us, saving us, and defining us… whatever.  But the other group is a racist, stupid, weak people holding us back, taking us down the wrong path, or both.

How do we end this?  By staying rational.  I am not asking anyone to give up their anger, but it must be rational.  You must acknowledge, “Yeah, you’re angry… ok so am I.  But are you rational?”

We are a nation, a species, founded on dissent and anger.  It’s great!  Things don’t get better when we calm down…  Things get better when we stay rational.

Think of it like this.  Anger is a fire… a fuel.  Rationality and reason are the motor… the engine.  You need to house your fire in machine that does work or you are just an explosion without purpose.

Once you build that purpose we have something to talk about.

Comparing anger from one group to another is like comparing Gas from Shell and Chevron.  They both burn… yeah there are differences but it’s not the world.

You put that gas in a car… a machine of purpose and engineering… a machine that does work and accomplishing tasks.  Well, then we have something look at it.

Group A’s car seats five, gets 25 miles to gallon, and has a great stereo.

Group B’s car seats seven, get 18 miles to gallon, and has cargo room.

I don’t want to hear about your gas.  I don’t want to hear about your anger.  I want to hear about your purpose, your rationale, and why your plan is worth the gas.

What Do You Do When It Is Done?

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So this year was a big year for me.  Serious goals were set and work was done.

First and foremost I set the goal to run 12 races this year.  My 12 labors as I chose to call it.

It was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I could come up with.  It would all end with the Spartan Beast.  14 miles, a good bit uphill, in the heat, and 30+ obstacles.

Last year it broke me but this year I would be ready.

I trained five days a week.  Gym at 5 am.  Running 5, 7, and then 10 miles on weekends.  All year long this went on.  The other 11 races were practice and preparation for the Beast.  (Most were 5 – 9 miles long on much easier terrain).

I don’t want to get into how I did.  That’s not the point.  I met my goals, let’s leave it at that.  It would have been easier had I failed to be honest.  I know how to learn from failure.  I know how to cope and move on, try harder, and accept loss.  This was different.

Don’t get me wrong.  The Beast was far from easy.  It pushed my to my absolute limit physically and mentally.  I know I left everything out there and my training was 100% worth it.  I learned what to do next time (and there will be a next time!) to be even better.  However, it wasn’t the watershed moment I was expecting.

There is a powerful scene in a movie full of powerful moments, Kingdom of Heaven.  Orlando Bloom’s character is seeking forgiveness for his sins and the sins of his mentally ill wife who committed suicide after a miscarriage and is supposedly condemned to hell.  To find this peace he joins the Crusades with his long lost but now found father.

When he arrives at Jerusalem he goes to the mount that Christ was crucified on and he expects to have a great revelation.  He does not.  He says he feels nothing.

Sadly, that is how I felt.  I meant to complete these 12 labors and find a great new peace or understanding or vision or I don’t know… a new catch phrase?

I sat in the car being driven home by a good friend and I was in tremendous pain from fatigue and cramps.  My mind was racing as I held onto my hard won medal.  Finally, I broke down and shared with them my disappointment with my friend.  I thought I would have learned something?  What do I do now?

What do you do when it is done?

The easy answer is plan the next thing.  You’ve climbed the mountain, yes but it’s not the tallest mountain… so start again.

The problem is that if I just start again what have I achieved?  How do I start again if I think the journey is hollow?

I talk a lot about dealing with failure and how to move on, how to eat it and get stronger, but what about winning?  How does one cope with winning?

You got that job?  You won that fight? You got the girl?  You paid off the debt?

What now?

It is important to take time and learn how to win.  To reflect back on what you’ve done and take pride in it.

There are two aspects of the world that will try to take this from you.

  • Everyone gets a participation trophy so your awards, accolades, and accomplishments are diminished. Bullshit!  You need to be able to see the difference between a participation trophy and a real achievement.  You need to be able to see the difference in others and more importantly in yourself.
  • People will tell you not to be proud. Being proud is sticky subject.  Yes it can lead down a dark path to arrogance and ultimately make you lazy and complacent.  However, modesty can be a false altar where you sacrifice your hard work for the sake of others.

 

So in feeling nothing I’ve found my revelation.  I heard the message in the silence.

  • Achieve things for yourself. The medal I got was for me.  It is not for the world to judge and order and put ahead of or behind or even in the same world as the bloat of participation trophies.  The medal is a token to remind me of what I accomplished.  Remind ME.  It can only remind me because it’s my achievement.
  • Other people don’t get a vote in how I feel about my achievements. I am by far the most physically active of my family and friends.  I ran the majority of the races and the Beast alone.  Not because I am some solitary stoic monk but because I don’t have any friends or family that could survive the experience.  They didn’t do the work.  They didn’t accomplish the deed.  They don’t get to vote on how I feel about the achievement or what it means.

 

So here are the rules.  Do your work for you and you make sure to measure yourself.

I am not saying that the opinions of others don’t matter.  That’s childish… they 100% do.  They just don’t matter more than your own.

I am not saying don’t help others, work to make the world a better place, or be a good person.  I am saying that you are the one who decides when you’ve done enough.  You decide when it is good enough and you are the one who will know (if you are capable of being honest with yourself) if you gave it everything you had.