I read several PTSD blogs to keep up on what other people are discovering and trying with PTSD. I appreciated the post over at Healing from Complex PTSD discussing the difference between a trigger and discerning current bad behavior.
My thoughts on the issue is that it isn’t a trigger if the bad behavior is now. I also pay attention to what I call powder kegging. (My own term.) This is means a mildly offensive behavior causes a massive explosion. Here is how I would differentiate between triggers, powder kegging and just wrong…discerning bad behavior.
Trigger – an innocent act, words, smells, or other minor innocent event that triggers a negative memory from the past. I can also have small events that remind me of happy events and I call those ‘warm fuzzies.’
Powder keg – a minor negative action that causes a massive out of proportion response, also called land mines. Yes the current action is negative but my reaction is severely out of proportion to the incident.
Discerning bad behavior – Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. After experiencing negative behaviors I recognize them more quickly as boundary breaking abusive behavior. I recognize that the other person did something wrong. This is discernment.
Dictionary meaning of discernment: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discernment
Many emotional abuses are subtle and hard to recognize or the put downs and insults happened for years. Learning to recognize boundary crossing is difficult to learn when it goes on for years. Abusers will attack their victims with accusations of ‘you are too sensitive,’ ‘it wasn’t that bad,’ ‘get over it,’ ‘stop using your PTSD as an excuse to over react,’ and the list is fairly lengthy of the excuses, invalidation, or blaming their victim. Please understand, an abuser will not take responsibility for their actions. A person messing up and didn’t mean to hurt you is willing to take responsibility and give a genuine apology.
Learning to discern when bad behavior is an accident or on purpose is a learned skill. Some people learn faster than others but it is possible to learn it. I believe it is one of the essentials needed to know how to survive and thrive. If I can’t discern put downs, boundary violations, disrespect, then I can’t protect myself or move away from abusers. I believe discernment is one of the basics of speaking my truth.