When we're triggered, it can radically change things. A friendly inquiry like "where is my cat hair" creates a pause. The intention isn't to dwell there. Rather, to notice it, without judgement, understand why it's there, and move forward toward freedom and peace.
I'll share a few tools for the inevitable cat hairs, or triggers in our lives:
You always have a choice about how you respond.
There's a key distinction between reacting and responding. Reactions come from the emotion center in our limbic brain. The amygdala drives this process, which comes from a fight, flight, freeze place.
Responses are more skillful by virtue of engaging our higher brain, the pre-frontal cortex (PFC). When the PFC is integrated, we come from a more rational, stable, centered place. Over time, with practice, this pause is widened and becomes more automatic. We begin to skillfully respond to triggers more of the time, which in effect shifts a temporary state to an enduring trait.
"Between a stimulus and response there's space, and in that space lies our freedom and power." -Victor Frankl
I've adopted Frankl's quote as a mantra. Consider what works for you to pause when you're triggered and widen this space. What's on the other side may very well alter your entire experience.
2) Practice of Opposites - Pratipaksa Bhavana, Patanjali's yoga sutras, 2.33
And the follow-up: Model what you're asking for.
I've come to love this simple practice. I use it often when I'm triggered to shift a reaction to a response in-the-moment. I began using this with "light" triggers, like a challenging asana (yoga pose.) It took a yoga teacher pointing out to me one day that I was the only one smiling during eagle pose. It's become automatic, and now extends into other facets of my life. A simple smile can shift the entire biochemistry of your body.
For heavier stuff, consider how you might model what you're asking for. For me, this has played out very favorably with difficult conversations. I had a transformative experience with this the first time I stepped up to model peace by directing the conversation toward understanding where each of us was coming from. When people feel valued and respected - seen, heard and understood, it becomes more possible to make a u-turn toward common goals.
Remember, it's not a situation that's problematic. Rather, it's our relationship with it. Reflecting on Frankl's quote, I invite you to try the following suggestions on, and share your experience:
1) Purposeful pauses to widen your space
2) Practice of opposites - model what you're asking for, be a "change agent".
Start small and gradually work up to more challenging triggers. In time, you'll enjoy the benefits of fewer cat hairs and maybe even begin inviting them into your life - practice, for the greater good.
Now that's empowerment!