Upsets and Set-ups
Michael Brown, in his book entitled The Presence Process, insight-fully and creatively plays with words in a way that privileges other perspectives on the ways that we think about challenging experiences in our lives.
‘Upsets’ or the moments in which we find ourselves feelings or experiences that provoke a less than happy reaction. Our focus in those moments can be resentments, resistance, feelings of victimization, frustration, anger, fear — and our actions reflect these negative perspectives on ourselves and our lives.
Michael Brown has decided to refer to these moments or upsetting events as ‘set-ups’ instead. The dictionary defines this term as : “an event the result of which is prearranged“. The meaning here connotes a kind of situation that one can not have any control over…specifically in terms of reaction or behavior. And the reactions or behavior are presumed to be associated with habits or patterns that are not optimum or to one’s advantage. A situation may catch you off guard or trigger you into reacting in a way that you are tricked into or unable to see the options for reactions that you may have.
For me, wow — I encounter so many of these a day, and most of them originate not with a particular situation but in the way I interpret the moment, the situation I am in in the moment, the expectations that I have that I am not aware of, and the outcomes that I am afraid of.
– I am alone in my place: it is upsetting because I believe that I am alone. It is a setup rather than an upset when I think differently about the situation
-this guy that I miss doesn’t communicate with me in a way that shows he wants to continue to socialize, or anything. It is an upset because I am lonely. It is a set-up because it challenges me to see that this lack of communication is freeing me up…
– I am planning to head out of town with a guy friend on the weekend and I am reticent because we have never been in the same place/time for days on end. I am afraid of being found out to be moody, or boring, or controlling or critical, or unfun, or anything bad. It is a set-up because I need to focus outwards, on the things that I will enjoy…that I want to enjoy. On my intentions for the trip. On how I want to enjoy the time, enjoy the time with my friend, discover things.