Do you ever find yourself annoyed with someone and can't figure out why? Sometimes we get into conflicts with people for what seems like no reason at all. Something about their tone of voice, mannerisms, or choice of words just gets under our skin. At times this can be a signal that they pose a real threat to our psyche, gaslighting, coercing, or trying to keep us off balance as a way to exert power and control. But, they could also just be reminding us of someone who did these sorts of things. So, how do you know when someone poses a real threat, and when they just happen to trigger memories of someone else who hurt or diminished you? How can you be sure that you are defending yourself against something real, and not causing damage to a good or beneficial relationship by misreading someone's interactions? For those whom have engaged in psychotherapy, the answers are simple. Those whom have processed the past, and understand how they respond to situations at a cognitive and neurobiological level, are able to discern between an actual threat in the here and now, and a trigger that brings up parts of us that are stuck in the past. Instead of panic, anger, or a sense of shrinking into a younger version of themselves, they are able to stand tall, in the here and now, ask questions or assert feelings in a manner that helps to clarify the situation, and anchor themselves with a clarified perspective. Misreading people and situations is a common thinking error, and is not necessarily an indication of mental illness. But, seeking psychotherapy to keep a clear and grounded view of relationships can lead to deeper and more fulfilling connections with others. Such bonds, born of effective conflict transformation, are the foundation of success, for they allow for collaboration, innovation, and shared knowledge, rooted in trust.
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