I’m in a Trance!

There are certain situations, conversations that will cause us to react.LaShelle Charde refers to this an immediate and conditioned behavior that places us in a trance. This is a pattern that we have developed over many years as a result of something that happened that long ago. Once we have become stimulated our reaction is rooted in the past. We aren’t seeing the present clearly because of the often-unconscious memories that we have now connected with the event.

We truly believe that our emotions in that moment are about the other person, when in reality much of what we are experiencing is about the past. We are in a reactive trance. This will often stimulate the person we are speaking to as well. They will also fall into a reactive trance. We all tend to have a consistent pattern in our communication when we are in the trance. We have a type of body language, a tone of voice, certain phrases we us, that signify we are in the reactive trance.

The purposes of identifying a reactive trance are to either become more self-aware, and start to unravel the unconscious past influences on your present life; or to be able to react differently to someone else having a reactive trance. If we can be aware that although the other person is speaking to you, and using your name, they are really caught in and reacting to past experiences, then we can hopefully prevent ourselves from falling into a reactive trance. We can stay connected to ourselves and have an open heart for what is happening for both of us. We can be open to hearing the feelings and needs.

LaShelle Charde offers some helpful universal patterns and associated needshere. She also gives some suggestions about how to respond when someone you are communicating with becomes reactive that include: setting boundaries, honest expression, empathy guessing and offering reassurance. If the other person expresses anger, maybe even rage as part of their reaction, you may want respect and request “I need respect, please say that differently”, or you may even need to state you will have to talk about this later and leave. When emotions are strong you may feel disconnected and it might be helpful to say “I’m feeling disconnected right now and want to be connected as we talk. Can we take a few minutes to pause and take a few breaths”? If you can be connected it will be helpful to guess at what the other person is feeling and needing at that moment. And rather than defending yourself, reassure the person about what you are trying to do.

A couple was having a discussion about leaving the house together in the mornings to go to an appointment. They both believed it was important to honor the time set for the appointment and be on time. However, they each had their own way of getting ready in the morning to leave. One partner had felt some tension in how the mornings were going so he approached the other partner with a request. He was feeling some anxiety about whether they would actually be on time, and wanted to trust they would. He perceived his partner as moving a little more slowly than he did in the morning so he asked his partner if she would agree to a plan where he would give her a 5-minute warning before they were to leave. His hope was she would then be ready to leave in 5 minutes. She agreed.

From his perspective, the next morning he gave her the 5-minute warning and then as they had left the house, she asked if perhaps they needed something that was back in the house. He felt angry, stated they didn’t, and they continued on. From her perspective she was ready before the 5 minutes were up, he was running around getting things done “at the last minute”, and then was trying to hurry her out of the house.

Something as simple as this situation caused a reactive trance in both of them. They both became defensive about what had happened. He felt frustrated that the agreed upon plan had not been honored; she had not kept up her end of the deal by asking about retrieving something from the house after they had left. She felt angry that she had been ready and then he had hurried around and rushed her out at the last minute. A friend suggested they figure out how long the male partner really needed to shower so she wouldn’t think he was rushing and she could remain calm. But this really wasn’t about how long he showered, or whether she was waiting, or any of the other details of what had happened. Instead, this situation was stimulating a reactive trance in both of them.

She was reacting to the thought the she was being “told” what to do. Her strong desire for choice was being stimulated. He was reacting to his need for integrity, his desire to keep that appointment time. These needs are probably core needs to them that follow a thread back to their childhoods. Becoming aware of these reactive patterns help us to develop more self-consciousness and the ability to stay connected more and more. Here is a great article on how to respond to reactivity.

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