You can ask for a “Do Over” any time. Yes, it does not seem common, at least in our adult culture, to say, “Can I have a do over?” Sometimes I hear, “Can we start over?” However, if I am feeling some type of frustration already, I tend to hear the “we” as blame and I might begin unconsciously defending myself. Where as, if someone says “Can “I” have a “do over,” I tend to soften. I hear that “they” need help.
I asked for a “do over” a few weeks ago. Here is what happened. As a customer at a specialty store, I had returned to the store to pick up an order I had placed several weeks earlier. I very much wanted to pick up my order before I traveled overseas. The clerk had my original order, however, the order had not yet been processed. After a bit of conversation, I was upset, and asked the clerk to transfer my order to another store. The clerk began telling me that her store had done nothing wrong to lose my business. I was then even more upset because I wanted ease, my original order, and now I also wanted understanding as well as for the store staff to take responsibility for what I thought was their oversight. I then asked for a copy of my order, received it and left.
As I drove away I had the thought, “I just cut my nose off to spite my face.” As I continued to think about the situation, I thought, “Even though I might have been right,” in reality I don’t have what I really want (my order as well a respectful relationship with my neighbors, the store staff) and I will have to start the process completely over at a new store – so I really haven’t won anything!”
Then another thought came to me, “Maybe I could go back to the store and ask for a ‘Do over’ and see what happens”.
As I sat there I began to feel scared, thinking what it might be like to return to the store. I thought about losing face; questioning what people would think of me; what would happen if they told me to go to “you know where.” I decided I was willing to risk what ever might happen and see what could happen. I drove back to the store.
I sat in front of the store preparing myself. I took a breath, connected to myself (breath-body-needs). At that moment I wanted to be connected with my internal experience in the present moment because I believed if I was connected and aware, I would be more effective in reaching my goals. My goals were to stay present so I could be connected in the conversation with the clerk, to actually receive my order have a greater possibility to experience me as I want to be seen (competent, sane and friendly). My request to myself was to be aware of each breath as a strategy to stay present.
I walked into the store and walked to the counter. The clerk made eye contact with me and I said, “Can I have a do over?” She said, “You want a do over?” I said, “Yes, can I have a do over?” She had a faint smile, and said, “Do you want us to have a do over?” In that moment a sense of ease wash over me, and I had a sense of hope.
I explained that I knew she did not take my original order, and that I had thought my order would be ready the previous week and I was anxious about my upcoming overseas trip. Then I asked her if she would be willing to help me complete and process my order. The rest of our transaction seemed to be typical and flowed with ease.
Sure, it probably would have been easier had I never been triggered or left the store, but since then the last few similar encounters have been so much easier for me. We each find situations where others do or say things that we do not enjoy. Possibly the other person clearly has not done what they said they would – or possibly something else. Either way, what is the best action you can next take to meet your needs, to get what is important to you? I am sure the next action that will best serve your needs isn’t to tell the other person they are wrong, this only escalates the conflict within you, between the two of you, and within the other person. The question becomes how can continue the conversation without making anyone right or wrong? Imagine that.
There are many “pre-trigger plans” we can put into place. Self care possibly being the most important. Preparing myself with enough sleep, enough self-connection practice, mindful meditation, eating well, meeting my connecting and empathy needs, and so on. Without these I tend to have less tolerance, and I find that I am triggered even quicker than normal. Yet, even when I have been diligent caring for myself, I can still become triggered. Becoming triggered is like being hooked, and I can be swept away (hooked) very quickly without even knowing it.
For years I spent huge amounts of energy trying not to be triggered – when I was actually triggered. I believed the ultimate goal was not to be triggered or at least not to appear triggered. It took me a while to realize that trying not to be triggered does not help me grow beyond my trigger, it actually helps me stay stuck in the trigger. Trying not to be triggered I have found to be very painful.
I spoke at a recent retreat about how I have been coming to more acceptance about getting triggered, and actually having ease when others witness me triggered. There is nothing wrong, nothing right, it just is. Now more energy is freed up that allows me to follow what is beyond the trigger (feelings and needs) and breathe through the discomfort as I pass through those moments.
I have enjoyed several moments of celebration as I find myself telling my teacher – “do you remember when ‘this or that’ was such a deep trigger? Guess what? It’s not there, I have not felt that trigger for some time.” Freedom! Maybe for the first time in my life I have begun to experience something I believe is freedom.
I like the “Do Over”…. I also very much enjoy getting to the other side of triggers that have been there for years. Going around just hasn’t worked…the journey seems to be straight through the trigger.
Remember to breathe. As I heard Sharon Salzberg say, “Focus on just this one breath”. One at a time, one breath at a time, one moment at a time.