Don’t Pull Your Own Trigger

(Bit of an add-on to my last blog, but important, anyway.)

It’s the week after Mental Health Awareness Week, which is the UK’s week-long answer to the American Mental Health Awareness Month – maybe a reflection of our shorter attention span or their inability to understand things quickly, who knows?

 During this period I have been inundated with posts on various social media where people have disclosed their struggles with mental health, and I have to admit to being torn. On the one hand, they are struggling. On the other hand, they seem to be saying ‘Look at me, I’ve got it bad’, as if having mental health (stress) challenges is a competitive sport and they’re winning, or at the very least they have got your attention for a minute or more.

Yes, I KNOW that seems unfeeling. But here’s the thing.

If you are genuinely suffering TALK TO SOMEONE. But Twitter isn’t someone. Twitter is a place to get attention.

(Incidentally, if a Twitter ‘friend’ discloses mental pressures, perhaps you should make sure that they WANT you to retweet to complete strangers. Moving on.)

Then I read a tweet from someone who disclosed that a third party had ‘triggered’ her, knowing that he was ‘triggering’ her, and there was, naturally, some sympathy expressed for her situation.

But I have read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and here’s Stephen Covey’s take on ‘being triggered’:

“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Of course, things can hurt us physically or economically and can cause sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well.”

Covey, Stephen R.. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (p. 95). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.”

I cannot know the poster’s situation. And I did not comment on the tweet, nor would I expect such counsel as this to be welcome. And I certainly don’t find it easy to act upon it, myself. But my own awareness of the idea that I can CHOOSE not to be ‘triggered’ does, occasionally, result in a better response than choosing to be miserable. And this is the advice I would like to offer to the offended (and to the easily offended, but that’s an argument you can’t win with those who are too busy being offended on behalf of those who aren’t offended by what SJWs are offended by).

  1. Choose not to be offended.
  2. Challenge those who are trying to offend you.
  3. Give them one chance to apologise.
  4. If they don’t, escalate it to someone, because these days there is someone to whom it can be escalated.

BUT FIRST, give them the chance to apologise because believe it or not, some people don’t realise they’re being offensive, in part because the rules on being offended have changed since COVID.

I gave a speech a while ago, and I bemoaned the fact that modern police organisations spend more time on diversity training than on criminal investigation training. Two people in the audience took offence. One, a diversity trainer, decided I was attacking diversity – I wasn’t, I was attacking my perception of an over-focus on it – and was really (excuse me) triggered. Her argument was made quite aggressively. She chose to be angry.

The other, a trans woman, was measured, and listened to what I was saying (which included an apology if my words hadn’t accurately expressed my intended meaning). I suggested that most people are good people and didn’t need extensive ‘be nice’ training. She was patient and just said, “Some people need to be taught how to be nice.”

And THAT was the more powerful argument. Made politely, gently, and all in one extremely profound sentence.

Two people, same trigger. Two different responses. And the patient, considered response won my heart.

So don’t ‘be triggered’. Choose your response and feel better for it.

And no, I don’t need to read about it on Twitter.

For more on ‘policing your own stress’ through better self-management, read ‘Police Time Management’ by David Palmer, Retired Fraud Squad and Divisional CID Detective, available HERE on Amazon.

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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