Why we should be kind even when we are triggered

I have an active Instagram account during lockdown.

Every day I add pictures of my kids doing wholesome activities that I thought of myself. Activities that stimulate their minds and their bodies, and often their taste buds. I curate the pictures I take into Instagram posts each day, with a counter of how many days it’s been since my children last crossed the threshold of our property.

I am creating a visual diary of how we thrived though COVID-19. Every night I get into bed, take a breath and write my entry, as if it were a captain’s logbook.

This isn’t meant to be a brag, or meant to trigger other people who aren’t doing these things. This is my coping mechanism. I’m trying to cope in the best way I can and this is honestly what it looks like.

Most people are trying to do the same, but it shows, and triggers others, in different ways.

People who manage to get a 10km run in every morning within the lockdown time restrictions? Triggering the ones who wore ‘day pajamas’ to their home offices today.

Those who complain about drowning in a sea of work? Triggering those who haven’t worked in months.

Those who believe we should all be free to make whatever decisions we want regarding our bodies? Triggering the healthcare workers who may be overwhelmed with cases in a few months’ time.

Those who just want to follow the rules? Triggered by mostly every-thing in Cape Town, and on Facebook, and Twitter.

And those who hate the rules and think them nonsensical? Triggered by them.

At the same time as this ‘triggering and being triggered’, ‘naming and shaming’ and ‘pointing and laughing’ have become tsunamis on social media. The other day Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba allegedly farted during a television interview. Not ideal, I agree. But the relish with which people took to social media to shame her made me wonder if alles is alright by die huis? (And if all is normal in their own digestive systems).

And then I realised that this laughing at others is just another type of coping mechanism, albeit a not very kind one.

I want to start observing how I choose to spend my time and focusing on healthy coping mechanisms. You can too. Notice if you scroll through Facebook when you are feeling stressed or uncomfortable. Does it then lead you down a path that ends in guilt for hours lost to screen time? Or feelings of self-righteous rage triggered by other people’s posts? Or, does it fill you with joy to have a connection with other people?

Take note of the way you feel and make adjustments. Think about how you want to feel when this is all over and work backwards from that.

I want to feel like I coped in the most positive way I know how. That we made happy memories despite the days filled with tears and uncertainty. I want to know that I was kind to those who triggered me too, because our responses to others says more about us than they do about them.

I know that out there is someone who, when they see my posts, is in real danger of their eyes rolling right out of the backs of their heads. And I hope that they’ll remember to be kind to me too.

By Lindy Diamond, Editor Cape Jewish Chronicle

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