It’s happened. Someone said something to your face that has left you triggered like no one’s business. You stand there gaping like a fish, almost spluttering with indignance as you think of a million different comebacks to spew at your ignorant and as yet, oblivious assailant. Still unaware of the inner turmoil currently running through your mind, he or she continues rambling on as your brain is still struggling to process what was just said. In fact, they’ve gone on and on for so long, that you’ve managed to embark on a “Six stages of grief” programme and you’re now at the “acceptance” stage; acceptance of the fact that this person is a nutjob who’s a few french fries short of a Happy Meal.
Deducing that it would be unwise to engage in an outright debate with someone displaying such irrational sense of thought, you formulate a mild response with the intention of gently prodding this being back into saner grounds. However, to no avail as they, almost admiringly, stick to their guns and stand by their beliefs. On the outside you look pensive as you pretend for a minute to consider their ridiculous viewpoints, but on the inside you’re really begging for a “Report as inappropriate” button from the universe.
It’s not that you’re the type to shut down any other opinion that doesn’t mirror your own; you’re not close minded at all. But being a mere human, there are always going to be certain sensitive topics in life which will provoke your undoing. For some people, perhaps it can be a conversation surrounding a recently-reported rape case where someone casually assumes that the victim was scantily dressed or not modest enough. #TRIGGERED. For others, it can be someone making a “Make me a sandwich” joke accompanied with oaf-like gestures telling all women to “Get back to the kitchen!”. #TRIGGERED. Or it can even be a carelessly aimed question indelicately placed at the wrong place and the wrong time. #TRIGGERED.
But the fact of the matter is that, while it’s a great feeling to be able to stand by your beliefs and defend them, at times it’s best to pick your battles. Deep down inside, you know that no matter how well thought out your points are, or how articulate you are when forming your arguments, it still won’t get through to insufferable brutes like the one standing before you. You could be a world-renowned TED talk speaker on the subject at hand, a publisher of many bestseller novels on the topic and yet, there will still be someone out there who thinks they’re smarter than you, all because they read one article a few days ago while sitting on the toilet.
So here are a few quick tips when dealing with a situation where you’re triggered, yet torn between wanting to say something and wasting your time by stooping to their level. If you must say something, try not to make it condescending. If you’ve opted to not say anything, you need to stick to your resolutions and refrain from trying to correct them even a little. Try your best not to splutter; grind your teeth to the bone, step on your own foot or bite your own tongue in an effort to stay quiet. Also refrain from making passive gestures such as grunting sarcastically and rolling your eyes so far up your head that they get stuck.
Even as your inner demons are still fighting among themselves, willing you to say something because you look like a coward, remember that you are simply saving your thoughts and energy for a worthier opponent.