I had a recent experience where a close friend made what everyone would class as a fairly innocuous comment. Objectively it was an innocent comment. I felt an instant emotional jolt, an instant and strong pang of something.
I didn't comment to him at the time, because I really didn't understand what the jolt was, I didn't understand how I was feeling, let alone why I was feeling that way..
Over the next few days I studied my response and tried to work out where such a strong reaction had come from. Eventually I worked out that his comment was (in my head anyway) a little too close to a comment that would have been said in a much earlier unhealthy relationship.
So the process for me was to accept that my friendís comment was actually fine in itself. He was not guilty of saying something wrong. My negative jolt reaction was linked to my past experiences. I was aware that my past experiences actually prevented me from hearing the innocence in his comment.
I emailed him and explained what had happened, and that I had a strong emotional response that was triggered by his comment, I explained my past so he could see why I may have had such a reaction. I re-assured him the comment was indeed fine...but it would be great if he could show some added sensitivity in the future given it's an area of vulnerability for me. His response was wonderful, he thanked for for being so honest in communicating what his comment had triggered for me and he committed to be mindful of this in the future..
This was a really good process for me as I felt I had worked out the issue was with me, rather than his comment, and it also opened me up the idea that I should listen to my ďjoltsĒ more often Ė they mean something !
Sometimes I think of it as listening to white noise and the discovering part of the noise isnít random, and picking up that bit that isnít random and turning it over again and again.
I now think of an emotional jolt as a non random sound amongst white noise, and listening to that non randomness is important.
In terms of my friend, I think in the past I may have just said (to myself of course
) something along the lines of ďoh, what a insensitive person he is....what a thing to say to me!!Ē
And Iím glad I didnít treat him that way, he is a very sensitive person, and I would have been doing him a great disservice.