The very first time I met my therapist, she asked me to do an activity categorizing what behaviors were acceptable to me. “Red Light” behaviors are the worst most-intolerable and “Green Light” behaviors are tolerable. “Yellow Light” behaviors are, of course, cautionary ones. All of the behaviors relate to what someone else is doing, not what I am doing.
When she first asked me, my red-lighters were along the lines of “hitting me”…and that was all. I had no conception of the idea that other behaviors were also “unacceptable”. I couldn’t even think of any yellow-lighters and the green-lighters included cheating, yelling, pushing, hitting counter tops, getting in my face, etc. I stopped short of adding “holding my face inches from a hot stove” to any list.
But now, my thinking has changed. Thank goodness.
Back then (as if it were ages ago instead of weeks), I thought that because I had allowed certain behaviors, I should continue to allow them to be fair and not cause a shockwave in my household.
Now, I am hoping that there will be no more red-lighters because I hope to take appropriate action at the yellows. In my mind, defining the yellow light behaviors are crucial. I am about to sink into that space in my mind that is reserved for fearful memories to explore when my inner alert system first sounded. (I ignored the emergency broadcast, but it was there!)
Already my heart is pounding. I don’t want to go there. But if I’m going to identify the situations from which I need to end or escape, then I’m going to have to take the re-maginary trip. Wish me luck.