You Go First

“You go first.”

This is the thought in my head when I get triggered by my partner, child, or a family member, and occasionally clients, friends, or others.

“You go first.”

You be vulnerable. You apologize. You make the first move of reconciliation.

Only problem is, I have a hard time waiting. So, I usually go first. Which isn’t always pretty. Because I am triggered and acting from my habit pattern not from a behavior I choose.

I also begrudgingly know when I have this thought, “you go first,” that the problem does not lie with them, but with me. Again, I am triggered. I have cut off from them. I am above them. I am too good to be bad or wrong or go first.

Why do we play these games that sometimes feel like life or death? What prevents us from being vulnerable in the moment?

As a species we are psycho-neuro-biologically hard wired to search for safety, belonging, and dignity. When these have been met in our unique way, we feel settled.

When we do not feel safe, feel that we do not belong, or feel that we have lost our dignity, our body system senses this disconnect and responds by triggering old habit patterns of action – the reactive self. Our response protects these hard wired needs from real or perceived threats.

This response is well practiced, justified, and automatic. We often do not even know we are triggered. We know we are right, and they are wrong, and they should apologize, dammit.

This is not a bad thing. We can live a mostly satisfying life unconscious of our trigger response. It is only challenging if the way we want to be is at odds with who we are in those moments. This was the case for me.

I knew I wanted connection with the people that I loved, but I struggled with needing them to honor my dignity so that I could feel connected. Through the desire to fill this psycho-neuro-biological need of dignity, I was egocentric – only seeing myself, and what I might need, not the other people and what they may need.

It is really hard to go first when your ego is on the line.

Ego is a psychological term meaning a collection of beliefs about the self. Our ego is helpful in our early life, essential actually. We must develop a strong sense of self or ego to stake a claim for our place in the world.

However, the next step in our psychological development, after we become attached to that collection of beliefs about the self, is to let it go. This is not easy. Often, we do not want to let go of our ego. We are attached to it. It is us. To let go feels like we are letting our self down. This thought in and of itself can cause years of trigger responses.

Yet, letting go of the ego is a sign of maturity. It initiates our growth into a new phase of development where we can bring our gifts purely in service of something bigger than the self.

Curious who might be leading your show: the ego or the more mature self in service to the more than human world? Invite perspective. These are some of our favorite questions to live into. Who is the person we want to be? What help do you need to feel supported on that path?

Come wrestle angels with us.

The Man Watching (wrestling angels) by Rilke.docx

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