It happened to me a while ago. Twice!
And what did I do? I froze. It felt like a shock. And I didn’t respond how I would have liked to. It felt like my brain closed off.
Which is actually a classic trauma response – the words felt like a shock – they threatened my safety – not physically but internally. A thing from the past.
They threatened connection with that person.
And my cognition went offline.
Three steps in this trauma response – safety threatened, connection threatened and then mind not working. It happens in an instant.
Though not long afterwards my mind went haywire with trying to work out why that person would say that and what they actually meant and many other thoughts. Too late to question then.
What happens to you in this situation?
Maybe you have a different response. It could be an immediate verbal retaliation. It could be a calm measured question. What else?
I would have liked to question the person about what they meant and why they thought that. Calmly.
But at the time, the best thing to do is to actually look after oneself by calming the nervous system response. Calm the shock.
1. Breath a long breathe out. Don’t try and breath in – the chest is now tight and you can’t force air into a tight chest. Breath all the way out, as far as you can and then in breathe will take care of itself.
2. Apply pressure to your body somewhere discretely. Maybe a hand on your thigh. Activating a thigh muscle directly calms the nervous system.
Either of these deals with what is happening in your body. Then the brain might start working and you can respond.
I’d be interested in hearing how it works for you.
You may like to practice in a less threatening situation so it becomes more likely that you do this when it’s really needed.