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Your Relationship Triggers are your Greatest Teachers

By Margot Zaher

The greatest opportunity you have in partnership is the ability to use all interactions with your partner as a vehicle for learning about your ego self and shifting more deeply into relating from your soul self. Each time your partner does something that triggers one of your hot buttons, the Universe gives you the opportunity to recognize this trigger and transform your reaction to it. If you lived in complete isolation, hidden away in a Tibetan cave, you would have little chance to recognize your triggers. Since awareness is the key to transformation, you can be deeply grateful for your partner's desire to help you become more enlightened by triggering all of those buried hot buttons.

"The purpose of relationship is not to have another who might complete you, but to have another with whom you might share your completeness." ~ Neale Donald Walsch
Our mind is used to following certain train tracks. It has a normal or typical response to most situations. How do you normally view your partner when he or she triggers you? Do you see your partner as annoying, immature, helpful, or lazy? We all have habitual ways of seeing ourselves, our partners, and our world. What is the habit that you have fallen into? How does it support or not support the kind of relationship that you deeply desire? You can choose to see your partner as a Divine teacher instead of just an annoying person. In the instance where you are triggered, I would invite you to use the following four-step process to help you see the divine in your partner, and move more deeply into soul-based relating.
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." ~ Carl Jung
  1. Energetically step back three paces
    When you feel the trigger button being pushed, imagine that you are literally stepping backwards three paces. By moving backwards, you become the observer. Just imagine you're watching this scene like you were viewing a great movie. Actually see yourself in the scene and become really curious about what you're feeling or experiencing. This visualization gives you some energetic space from the situation, allowing you to maintain a calm centered feeling instead of getting lost in an emotional whirlwind.
    "The people we are in relationship with are always a mirror, reflecting our own beliefs, and simultaneously we are mirrors, reflecting their beliefs." ~ Shakti Gawain
  2. Find the teaching in the situation
    When you feel centered, ask yourself, "What is the teaching that my partner is trying to teach me?" Open up your mind and get really curious about what you are meant to learn in this situation. There's always a lesson to be learned from any perceived "negative" interaction with your partner. Let's pretend your partner got mad at you for not doing the dishes. Her anger triggers you, and makes you want to defend yourself. You notice that her anger makes you feel angry because you feel you've been unjustly accused of neglecting something. In this instance when you feel the anger arise, ask yourself this question, "What is my partner teaching me about myself right now?"

    In this situation you could discover your partner's anger is teaching you that you feel uncomfortable around anger, and feel the need to defend yourself. Why do you feel that you must defend yourself? Get really curious about this response. There is a goldmine of information that will arise when you get curious about your reactions. In this scenario, you could discover you have an issue with following through on your commitments and that's why you're defending yourself.

    "What angers us in another person is more often than not an unhealed aspect of ourselves. If we had already resolved that particular issue, we would not be irritated by its reflection back to us." ~ Simon Peter Fuller
  3. Embrace the teaching
    Once you uncover the teaching, you then have an amazing opportunity to embrace this teaching and transform your life. In the scenario where you didn't do the dishes and learned you had a commitment issue, you could fully embrace this learning by diving deeper into your challenge with commitment. The best way to do this is to ask yourself lots of questions such as, "Why don't I follow through?", "How is this lack of follow through hurting me, and my relationship?", and "What new way of being do I want to embrace?"
    "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  4. Thank your partner
    Each time your partner annoys you or bothers you in some way, you can choose a new response of gratitude. Just say to yourself, "Thank you almighty teacher for pointing out my hot buttons." That's right. Truly acknowledge and be thankful for your partner and the amazing role that they're playing. For without this triggering, you would forever be lost in the dark and have little idea of where your ego is wreaking havoc and sucking you into suffering.
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