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Why We Snap

I'm sat in the barn (where all good muses come from of course!) and the horses are chilling, kind of. I've just done an exercise session with Jim and Dainty and this beautiful energy arose between them too delicious to not be sat in the middle of.

And then Jim goes to nip Dainty (but thinks better of it).

It reminded me of those times people, seemingly unprovoked, just snap at someone else for no reason.

But this isn't unprovoked. Jim and Dainty have history. I'm not sure I entirely understand it, but I know they don't often get on!

I'm sure it's some transgression that Dainty did years ago he's not forgiven her for! Or maybe it's just the way she is with him, which is aloof, self centered and not giving him his desired kind of attention.

And here, in this microcosm of a dynamic, I can see why us as humans, we do the same.

Anger can have so many causes!

We're not without issues. We're a complex make up of unique beings, learnt behaviours and survival strategies.

Unique, learnt, survival

First off there's our uniqueness. Everyone is just that, unique. Some people like it hot, some like it cool. Some like horror movies, I definitely don't! Some like the big smoke, others rural love tranquility. We're all different.

Layer on top of that learnt behaviours. These come from our role models such as parents, teachers, celebrities and community leaders. We watch how others deal with life and mimic it. We've no idea whether these are healthy behaviours or not, we just copy, assuming they're the "right" thing to do.

Children learn how to behave by mimicking adults

Finally, there's our survival strategies. These are the things we did in times of crisis. They might include lashing out, shutting down or becoming hyper-vigilant. If they work the the first time and help us survive a threat, we repeat them until something comes along to challenge them.

The reason all this is relevant is when someone does that irksome behaviour that drives you nuts, take a moment to work out, which one is at play?

You're never going to persuade an introvert to be a big party animal. If you're up against a personality type that isn't working for you, either work to find some common ground or walk away. There's no point asking someone to be what they're not.

Learnt behaviours are interesting ones. Most people don't realise they have them till they step out into the world and realise, not everyone deals with life the same way as them! "It's just what you do" is the standard vibe here. Nope. We don't always have to do things the way our culture and society tells us to. You might want to, to fit in, but if you want to push boundaries you're going to ruffle a few feathers as you do it. Ask yourself, is the outcome I'm aiming to get worth the effort? We're not going to change our learnt behaviours in one go, nor can you educate everyone else in there's, but if there's much to be gained it's worth a try. You're likely to come up against some cognitive dissonance if you do so, so be ready to tackle that with compassion! Communication skills are key here, as is understanding the other's perspective so you can move them to an alternative way of thinking.

Finally, the survival strategies. These are often deeply ingrained behaviours that bypass conscious awareness. It's the knee-jerk reaction to run away from a spider, freezing when a triggering person or thing walks in the room or trying to control every aspect of your existence so something bad doesn't happen. These strategies are the hardest to recognise and let go of. Survival strategies can destroy relationships, careers and our ability to look after ourselves. It takes great trust to unravel our survival strategies and heal the original event or events that created them that usually requires the help of a trained professional.

Lazy or hiding from life? Staying safe is a top priority when we feel scared

So as I watch Jim react to Dainty's behaviour, I'm asking myself, what's at play here? Character, learnt behaviour or survival? It informs me as to where I go next and how much of that behaviour I can shape.

I am sure you can relate to similar dynamics in your life!!

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