Primal Provocations

Primal Provocations

(By Jeff Brown)

I call them “primal provocations.” They are those experiences, situations and individuals (“primal provocateurs”) that trigger our deepest early wounds and issues.

For example, if you grew up with a deep anxiety about homelessness, a primal provocation would be any situation that causes you to worry about your ability to pay your rent or mortgage.

Or, if you grew up with an abandoning parent, forging a relationship with someone who always has one foot out the door.

Or, growing up with a rager, and then marrying one.

There are those who would say that every primal provocation is a welcome visitor, because it allows us to recognize our unresolved wounds. And sometimes, this is true. But not always. Because not all primal provocations are created equal. Some of them can be healed, and some of them cut too deep to be healed in this lifetime.

There’s a fine and meaningful line between triggers that support our healing, and those that merely re-traumatize us. Part of becoming healthier is making the grounded distinction between those wound clusters that can be healed, and those that can’t. And if some can’t be healed, consciously learning how to avoid those situations that provoke them. This is where healthy boundaries come in. We don’t just boundary ourselves from challenging individuals. We also boundary ourselves against those situations that will bring us back to unresolvable primal terrain. We shield ourselves from harm.

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