Every generation has its own unique perspectives, styles, and opinions that have shaped the world. We learn from the past and when we share our experiences, we pass on valuable lessons. These lessons can shape how we think, feel, and act. Personality factors combined with life circumstances chooses a different response for every one of us. How one reacts depends on family development, life experiences, and cognitive thought patterns. Regardless of a parent’s goodness, there is no way to avoid causing their children at times to feel negative emotions. While these frustrations are a normal part of the development process, they are significant in that they lead to chronic areas of sensitivity. Visible patterns can be modified, but people don’t change what they can’t see. Understanding the problem gives the power to know what to fix. People are who they are. There is not a specific area to measure invisible patterns, but the concrete evidence is the inconsistencies in one’s own agenda. Unintentional learning such as prejudices, cognitive distortions, family patterns, and emotional sensibilities can trigger our buttons.
Dr. Jeff Auerbach in his book, Irritating the Ones You Love-the Down and Dirty Guide to Better Relationships, breaks down these sensitive topics into jars. Everyone has at least 3 core areas of sensitivity that were created in early childhood, from age 0-6, as an unavoidable part of the developmental process. These sensitive areas result from having certain principles repeated and bruised by parents, usually unintentional. Patterns of behavior cause patterns of effect. The jars create a predictable pattern of reactions. Outside of traumatic events, any event or situation that produces negative feelings for a person will have a jar underneath it. Whenever a person gets irritated, agitated, defensive, takes something personally, or responds with a sense of urgency or passion, it’s a dead giveaway that one of the jars has just been activated. The jars are unconscious and as a result, negative feelings will tend to be seen by the person as being caused by the current situation. The jar provides the power for the overreaction. Increasing awareness of the jars allows use of a set of tools to more accurately understand and better manage undesirable reactions.
The Jars or areas of sensitivity are: lack of attention, lack of affection, lack of expression, fear, anger, abandonment or loss, physical neglect, self-centered or inconsideration, control, irrational or inconsistency, passivity or ambivalence, criticism, perfectionism, guilt, closed-mindedness or rigidity, responsibility, availability, dependability, respect, fairness.
People have three core principles for underlying triggers for a multitude of reactions, choices, and behaviors. Once the jars fully develop ages 6-10, there is little variability to them over the course of a person’s life. These jars provide the basis for a wide range of behaviors. These can be inconsequential as how one should clean their house, etc. A person’s jars will therefore provide a reliable predictor of their key patterns of behavior. For example, a person with a control jar will either be a control freak or be someone who is consistently passive and abdicates control. A person with a lack of attention jar will either seek attention or shy away from the spotlight. Humans have the fundamental need to control their own circumstances. They can strive to achieve positive outcomes by realizing what pushes their buttons and overcome obstacles and improve previous negative outcomes.