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What’s The Difference Between The Trigger And The Offense?

When photographing flowers, I can stand back and view them all, or focus on one flower. Or I can narrow my focus to just the center of one flower. It depends how close I want to get.

Focus Is a Factor When Writing a Worksheet

As you know, there are many ways to fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. And each way serves a different purpose.

Sometimes, I write a worksheet about a person in general that I haven’t forgiven. Going global like this gives me a perspective that narrowing down to a specific situation does not. I find this very helpful.

Other times, I write a very angry Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, where I rant and rave and swear. It is so helpful to write a worksheet like this, rather than a controlled hyper-focused worksheet.

But sometimes, I do rely on the skills of my craft, just like when I’m photographing a flower. Often I find it very helpful to write a very focused Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet that goes deeply into one particular stressful moment and revolves around one particular offense.

In these worksheets, my focus is so sharp that I’m literally going one inch wide and one mile deep. I see things by focusing in this way that I don’t see when I write general worksheets, or purely ranting worksheets.

Writing a Focused Worksheet Is a Skill

And it’s a skill well worth developing. You can take great photos without ever learning photography. But you’ll have many more options, and you’ll be able to take consistently better photos if you master the skills of photography.

The same is true for The Work. There are some skills worth learning. One of these is the skill of writing a very focused Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet.

What Exactly Am I Focusing On?

The process of writing a focused Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is a process of narrowing down. The starting point is a stressful emotion. That’s the alarm clock saying, “Hey! It’s time to do The Work!”

If I listen to the emotion, it will lead me to something that is bothering me. Someone or something upset me. Something triggered my emotional reaction. What was that? Who was that? Where and when was that?

It takes some time to start narrowing it down from the emotion to the specific moment and situation that triggered me. It’s a process of listening, meditating, noticing.

Once I Find What Triggered Me, I Can Look Deeper

The trigger moment is a specific situation. I remember where I was, where I was standing, what was going on. I remember who was there, what they said, and how I felt. This already is very focused.

But within the trigger moment, lies an offense.

Another Way To Think Of The Offense Is As The "Emotional Interpretation"

Let’s say you’ve been bending over backwards taking care of those you love. But when you ask someone to help, they react by saying, “Why do I have to do everything around here?” These words that they actually say are your trigger.

The offense, on the other hand, is your emotional interpretation of what they meant when they said it. It’s your story of what they are doing to you emotionally.

“He doesn’t appreciate me,” is one possible emotional interpretation in this situation. This would be the offense.

Line 1 of your Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet would be: “I am angry with him because he doesn’t appreciate me.”

The Offense Is What Really Bothers Me

As I narrow down from my emotion to a specific situation to the offender to the offense, I get clearer and clearer about what was upsetting me. When I write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on what was really bothering me, then what I write is very relevant to me.

And doing The Work on these very relevant statements tends to touch me deeply. That’s the value of really focusing in on one offense when writing a worksheet.

If you want to learn and practice how to write a very focused Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and the emotional interpretation, join us for The Work 101 course as a part of Inquiry Circle.

“Whenever we experience a stressful feeling—anything from mild discomfort to intense sorrow, rage, or despair—we can be certain that there is a specific thought causing our reaction, whether or not we are conscious of it.”