Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Demand Avoidance-Driven Emotions

My Demand Avoidance appears to operate at a level beneath conscious thought and emotion, so for example, if someone tells me what to do/think/feel/like triggered Demand Avoidance causes me to:
  1. Object to this person's directive with the equivalent of, "I do not want to that."
  2. Feel negatively about the request and sometimes the person giving it.
These Demand Avoidance-generated feelings tend to take the form of irritation, anger, resentment and/or withdrawal: "so and so was really thoughtless in pushing that on me!" Or "I just don't want to know, I am no longer interested in what they have to say."

This all goes on subconciously so that my triggered emotions feel natutral.  I think I have been seriously pissed off with people because of my Demand Avoidance many, many times in my life.

For example, I was seeing a counsellor a year or two ago and noticed that I had suddenly dissociated myself from what she was saying and was feeling awkward and a bit resentful.  I thought back to what she had last said, which had been to invite me to reflect on what I felt, and realised that this invitation had triggered Demand Avoidance.  I told her this and she became upset; she said she'd given the invitation with good intentions.   I explained that my Demand Avoidance was triggered regardless of intentions and manners.  I get Demand Avoidance against taking my jacket off in the summer if I notice I'm too hot, and this has got nothing to do with how polite my body was in signalling to me.

Another example of my emotions being driven by Demand Avoidance came in an online support group a day or two ago.  Someone, well-intentioned, responded to a comment I'd made by using the phrase "have to" and followed by a link to some self-help theory (I didn't digest what the link was about because my Demand Avoidance had already slammed the shutters down in my head and I just did NOT want to know).  It's not just that this person used the phrase "have to" (trigger #1), it was that they assumed I wished to be educated and read what ever text I'd be taken to if I clicked on their link: this was a triggering Demand (#2).  My Demand Avoidance reaction generated an emotional response of anger and resentment.  I scathingly decided not to reply to this person's well-intentioned comment ("How dare they patronise me?!")  And stepped away from the conversation.  However, as  time moved on, I noticed my anger had not.  On reflection, the amount of anger I was continuing to feel was phenomenal.  As the post in question was in a PDA support group, I decided to reply to this person's comment explaining how ,although I realised their intention had been good, they had triggered me.  I have to be careful communicating with people when triggered because I can be harsher than I'd like.  Thankfully on this occasion I seemed to have mananged to communicate respectfully!

I don't know if this is common to other PDAers, but I do get severely triggered by people in support groups who are demandy by:
  • Using phrases like, "you must..."
  • Giving me unsolicited advice/playing the expert (assuming I want to be taught by them)
  • Making long posts I feel I *should* read (*Should* = a Demand, even if it's derived from my own sense of fair play)
  • Talking over me
  • Making attention-seeking posts (including large, screen-filling photos of themselves)

I have at times been so triggered by this style of communication, regardless of how much I rationalise that the person in question means no harm, that I have (sometimes after months of triggered agonising) resorted to blocking them to save my own sanity.  This is not something I take lightly or feel good about doing, but the level of Demand Avoidance-produced negative emotion generated is unbearable.

Other PDAers I've been in conversation with appear not to be triggered so much by this sort of thing.  I feel that what triggers us varies hugely from PDAer to PDAer.  My particular social sensitivity may be part-rooted in my visual hypersensitivity, dyslexia and Irlen's syndrome (word blindness).

I do find that increased awareness of how my PDA works within me helps me to navigate the world better, but some triggers (like those described above) have yet to budge.  At least with awareness, I can "own" the negative feelings my Demand Avoidance produces.

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